Candidates VS the cultural interview

Example job interview

How to boss your interview.

If there are two words in the English language that can make anyone shudder, a real contender has to be, ‘job interview’. It’s rare to find people who enjoy the process – they’re basically designed to make you feel uncomfortable! At hackajob, we know how important this stage is, especially when you’re trying to set yourself apart from other candidates.

Purely technical interviews are a fantastic way to showcase your strengths, but when it comes to the generic ‘cultural-fit’ stage of the process, it’s easy to turn to jelly. Whether you end up giving a little bit too much away about your previous company, struggle to show your people skills or talk about negatives instead of positives, when looking back; there’s always something that can make you wince.

With this in mind, we spoke to our talent management team who outlined the tricks of the trade on how to answer the questions that you’re going to get asked, using the tried and tested S.T.A.R methodology. If you want to know what to expect in a technical interview, then make sure to read our article that outlines everything you need to know. For all things question-time, keep reading.

S.T.A.R

The abbreviation of situation, task, action and result, the S.T.A.R method is a common interview technique. Ideal for when you’re asked behavioural questions, if mastered correctly, it can make all the difference.

Typical behavioural questions can include:

“Tell me about a time where you faced a difficult challenge”

“Can you tell me about how you set goals within a previous role?”

“Give an example of a goal that you’ve achieved and what you did you reach it”

Helping you to provide solid answers for the questions that you could be asked, prepping your questions using S.T.A.R will get you off on the right foot. We’ve outlined the steps to success below:

Situation

Describe a situation that you were in, or a task that you wanted to accomplish. Don’t give a generalised description because the devil really is in the detail, and instead have enough information so that the interviewer understands what you are trying to explain. Your example can be from a previous job, a relevant event or even volunteering experience.

Task

Talk about what you needed to work towards. No matter whether it was big or small, you need to outline your target objective so that the interviewer understands how vital it was that you achieved your goal. This is also the part of the conversation where you can speak about any additional challenges or factors that you may have faced.

Action

What did you do to reach your goal? You’ll need to tell the interviewer the exact steps that you took to address the situation, but you also need to remember to keep the focus entirely on you. What were the specifics that YOU did? How did YOU contribute? Be careful not too describe what others did; it’s key to forget about them at this point and instead talk about your actions and involvement. Use the word ‘I’, not ‘we’, when talking through your scenario. Don’t forget to include qualities that the interviewer will like, such as dedication, teamwork and leadership.

Result

Describe the outcome of your actions, and don’t ever be afraid to heap some praise on yourself. Talk about what happened, how the scenario ended, what you accomplished and what you learned. It’s key that your answer contains multiple positive results. What’s more, this is a brilliant opportunity for you to talk about what you learnt.

Additional Tips

Whilst using the S.T.A.R method is key, it’s also crucial to have some of your own questions prepared before going into an interview. Our talent management team recommend having five questions prepped, so that you’re ready for any situation. Note that some of your questions are likely to be answered within the interview itself, but there’s nothing worse than being left questionless so it’s best to have thought of some queries in advance.

Another great tip? It’s always good to refer back to the company when answering questions. Peppering in little statements that show that you’ve done your research like, ‘You previously mentioned …’ or ‘Yes on your website I saw this’, will get you noticed and for all the right reasons.

Have you tried the S.T.A.R method? Make sure to let us know.

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