We’ve seen an uplift in interviews recently, ahead of each one of these we do a short coaching exercise with candidates, no more than 30 minutes, which is a dress rehearsal for the upcoming meeting our candidate will be having. We’re regularly encountering a question on how to structure an interview answer. So this blog is related to this.
There are to powerful communication tools to use when structuring an interview answer.
The first is called STAR
The second is called the power of three
Star, stands for Situation, Task, Application, Result. The basis of this being a good communication tool is that we are all hard-wired to received information in this manner.
As a parent, I regularly read books to my children and from Beatrix Potter through to Julia Donaldson every story follows this format. Interviewing is NOT about you feeling you have given out information, is IS about the interviewer feeling they have been given information, there is a difference.
By adopting a structure that follows story telling, your answer flows better. What is more, you know where you are in the answer. Next time you are giving an interview answer and looking to find the words, follow this structure to apply some background, describe the task and how it was completed and what achievements were related to it.
The Power of Three
Have you ever been given directions to a location in a town you don’t know well? How did that go? If you are anything like me you would have got to the third instruction and begun forgetting the first two. The reason for this is we can focus on about seven things at once so if you are in a car (1), running a bit late (2), thirsty (3) and the phone is out of battery (4) you have ‘room’ for about three instructions. At any one time, we are doing something that takes up a few of these slots, this is why the power of three works well. People can remember three things, it doesn’t require much focus and is a nice burst of information. As a communication tool, this is powerful as you want to be remembered.
How to use the power of three. Basically, if you are asked to list achievements in a prior job, describe your personality, or your ambition – give three most pertinent bits of information to the interviewer. This is a short, sharp punchy way of communicating and will have maximum impact.
Health warning – there are a couple of exceptions to this for example if you are being asked to ‘list’ something that goes longer than this (lab techniques your are comfortable using for example) don’t use this tool as the interviewer is asking for a detail-centric answer where more detail is better.