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We all hope to interview STARS, so we too should aim to be STAR interviewers.

Time and time again, we hear stories that remind us of the value of including some behavioural based questions in an interview.  We always expect candidates to come thoroughly prepared for an interview, so likewise, it’s important for employers to do the same.  We verify the information contained within a candidate’s resume, and probe for further detail in this regard, but we should never underestimate the value of incorporating behavioural based questions that shed light beyond what is presented on paper.

Human resources manager conducting job interview with applicant

A good behavioural based interview relies on the STAR method – STAR being an acronym which stands for –
Situation: The candidate describes a scenario in which they faced a tricky situation.
Task: The candidate describes the task or requirement.
Action: The candidate describes the action taken to manage the situation.
Result: The candidate outlines the action as a result of their action(s).

This method provides employers with the opportunity to address key selection criteria, so it’s a worthwhile formula to remember.

The following is an example of questions that cover a range of competencies:

Time Management / Planning & Organising:

  • Describe your involvement in a task or project that had to be done within an agreed time frame and be of an excellent standard.
  • Tell me about a time when a project you oversaw fell behind schedule.  What did you do about it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a lot to do in a short space of time.  Explain how you managed to complete all assigned tasks.
  • Provide an example of a project that you have had to plan and organise from beginning to end.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a lot of work to do? How did you cope? Where did you start? What did you do to ensure it all gets done?

Attention to Detail:

  • Describe a project you worked on that required very close attention to detail.
  • How do you stay organized?
  • Can you provide some examples of instances when you’ve discovered errors in your work or someone else’s?
  • How do you know if a project you are working on is going well?

Initiative:

  • Provide me with an example of a time that you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a time when you identified that a policy or procedure needed changing. Explain what you did in order to bring about your suggested changes.
  • Describe a time when you had to overcome a difficult problem on your own. How did you go about it?

Creativity:

  • What type of working environment makes you creative?
  • What is the most innovative thing you have done in your previous job?
  • What types of changes did you implement at your last job?
  • How do you encourage creativity in co-workers?

Communication:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to convey complex information to someone. Explain to me how you made sure the person(s) understood.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  • If you know your boss is 100% wrong about something, how would you handle this?

Customer-service Orientation:

  • Tell me about the last time you received great customer service.
  • What was the most difficult customer service situation you ever had to deal with?  How did you handle the situation?
  • Describe a time when the customer was wrong.  How did you handle it?

Problem Solving:

  • Provide a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • What kind of problems have people recently called on you to solve?  Tell me about your contribution to solving that problem.

Conflict Resolution:

  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.

Managing Change / Adaptability:

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way
  • Tell me about a time where you had to adjust quickly to changes in organisational priorities. What did you do?  How did you adapt the way you work to incorporate the change?
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Please tell me about a time when you had to deal with an uncertain situation.

Leadership:

  • Have you ever had difficulty getting others to agree with your decisions?  How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had to discipline or counsel another employee?  What was the nature of the situation and how did you go about it?
  • Can you recall a work experience where a problem arose, and your manager was unavailable?  How did you handle the situation, and how did things turn out?
  • Describe a time when you had to build a team to accomplish a task.  How did you go about building the team, and was it successful in attaining its goals?

Teamwork:

  • Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas.  What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked with a classmate or colleague who was not doing their share of the work.  How did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise.  What was your role?  What steps did you take?  What was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team that did not get along.  What happened?  What role did you take?  What was the result?

It’s important to keep in mind that there are no definite right or wrong answers.  Behavioural based questions can assist with assessing the candidate’s fit within the broader organisation’s culture, any areas for development, key strengths, as well as overall suitability for the role.  It gives employers a glimpse into what type of person they are considering employing for example; Can they think outside the box?  Do they have a can-do attitude?  Are they innovators?  Will they go the extra mile?  These are all legitimate questions which can provide employers with a broader perspective into the candidate’s behaviour.  Afterall, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour!

About In2view Recruitment

In2view Recruitment are proud sponsors of the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA).  We work with boutique to top tier firms, to assist with the provision of temporary and permanent staff.  Whether you need a lawyer, graduate, secretary, paralegal, receptionist or practice manager, we can assist.  Perhaps you require assistance with your clerkship programs.  We can also take this labour-intensive exercise off your hands.  We can find the right person for any role!

Our consultants are highly experienced and dedicated professionals who are passionate and committed to providing an exemplary service to both the candidate and the employer.  We aim to meet and exceed our clients’ needs, by providing a prompt, efficient and professional service.  We also aim to provide value for money recruitment solutions.

To find out more about our services, please telephone us on 8338 0189.  Alternatively, to find out more about us, please visit our website www.in2view.com.au

Author

Maura McConnell In2View
Maura McConnell
Recruitment Manager at in2view
Maura McConnell has extensive experience in the Legal HR/Recruitment industry. She previously held an HR role with a leading  Adelaide law firm and understands the dynamics of a busy law firm environment.  Her track record in recruitment speaks volumes as a professional recruiter who is dedicated and passionate about the needs of her candidates and clients. Maura holds a Bachelor of Business in Human Resources and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Politics.

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