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The STAR Interview Technique - How to Use it

The STAR Interview Technique - How to Use it

For most, job interviews are a pretty daunting, nerve-wracking thing. What are they going to ask? What if I get stuck trying to answer their questions? These types of questions beforehand are all too familiar, but it’s all par for the course. The best way to help is to try and prepare yourself as much as possible. Research is key. As is doing practical things that can help you get rid of nerves. But one other thing that should be in your arsenal is the STAR interview technique. Here, we’ll break down what it is with some tips on how best to use it. That way, you’ll be as ready as ever for your next real estate interview.

What is the STAR interview technique?

In short, the STAR method is a way to formulate your answers to mainly behavioural-based interview questions. It’s all those questions that start with the likes of “Tell me a time when…” or “Describe a situation where…,” questions that if ill-prepared can put interviewees on the spot trying to think of examples.

The STAR technique gives you a structure to follow when answering, and in essence allows you to draw on anecdotes and real-life stories that help give more context to your interviewers. The STAR method in its simplest form is:

S - Situation: This is where you give the background and context to the story/example you’re drawing upon. It’s scene setting really, what you were looking to achieve, why the task came about etc.

T - Task: This is where you highlight what your role was in the situation.

A - Action: This is where you showcase what you actually did in the whole situation, your specific contributions and actions.

R - Result: This is where you detail the outcomes and accomplishments, relating back to the situation and goal in hand.

Tips on how to use the STAR interview technique

1. Be specific with your answers, & don’t ramble. The STAR technique is designed for storytelling, but that means it’s also quite easy to go into too much detail, do too much scene setting and generally talk for too long. You want to give context of course, but be detailed and specific in what you talk about, not generic or vague. Keep your answers concise and to the point. For example, in the situation part, you don’t have to give the whole backstory as to why you were tasked to do something. It’s enough to say that for example, you were tasked to bring in more clients in a certain market. Slightly more context may add a bit of substance but you don’t have to give the full background and story to why the agency wanted that.

2. Use this as a time to really sell yourself and your abilities. Sometimes, especially when it’s a team effort, it can be easy to oversell the team and undersell your own contributions to tasks. Answers to behavioural-based questions are not that time. Focus your answers on your goals and outcomes, speak very much in the “I” not the “we”, and generally don’t feel afraid to toot your own horn. For example, if the entire agency was given a directive to list more of certain types of properties, or go after a certain market more, what was your personal contribution to this, what were your steps and actions, as opposed to “we” went and did X, Y and Z.

3. Prepare a multitude of answers in advance in common questions and situations. As mentioned, preparation is key when it comes to job interviews. With the STAR method, even though you won’t know the questions you’ll get asked, a lot of the same themes typically come up in interviews. So, it helps to have a number of prepared answers at the ready. Things like times you faced a challenge, your biggest achievements, how you dealt with specific situations, they’re all quite common. Doing your research before the interview, such as looking over the job description may give you key insight into the questions and themes of questions you may face.

4. Don’t be afraid to highlight things that didn’t work. Whilst the point of the STAR method is to show yourself off and offer up situations where you did well, sometimes it could be beneficial to highlight times that didn’t work so well. This could help you explain more around what you’ve learnt as a result, what you’d do differently and ultimately end up being a positive anyway. For example, if you have a situation around dealing with difficult clients, perhaps maybe the end result is you didn’t get their listing, but by now understanding X, Y and Z you’ve been able to apply your learnings and as a result managed to get a different client instead.

5. Don’t be afraid to draw on answers from outside of work. Especially if you’re a graduate or new to the workforce, you may not have a whole bank of situations and work experience to draw on in order to answer these questions. Don’t be afraid to go outside the work context, and pull on stories from other areas of your life. It could be from a situation at university, a work placement, a sport or recreational story - they’re all good ways to still highlight your personality and behavioural traits. For example, if you’re talking about examples that showcase leadership or communication skills, perhaps an example of being a captain of a sports team helps you highlight this, or a group task at university where you need to lead the group to a high mark.