Your STAR Stories

Whether you are starting your own business or going into an interview, you want to have prepared stories about your past performance. Today’s HR managers do what is known as “behavioral interviewing.” Their assumption is a logical one: past performance predicts future performance. You might have feared this process in the past. It begins with that dreaded question: “Tell me about a time when you….”

The purpose of this line of questioning is to get you to reveal yourself. To present yourself in a positive light, prepare to tell your career stories quickly and confidently. What you will notice is that one story can demonstrate several good qualities. With five to seven stories in your back pocket, you are ready for anything! With STAR stories, you will knock ’em dead and get the job or promotion. In creating your stories, use these four steps:

SITUATION: What happened. Keep it simple.
TACTIC: What you intended to do. Your approach.
ACTION: What you did (or helped to do).
RESULTS: Be specific. Give dollars saved or created. Tell how much, how large, how significant.

STAR STORY EXAMPLE
“When I was just 19, I worked for a furniture store during the summer. One day, I was sent out in a truck to pick-up a $3,000 sofa. The woman who had purchased it was irate because the leg was loose and the sofa was just a few weeks old. I decided to find a way to connect with her. When we entered the home, I saw a photo of a crew team on a river. I asked her about it, and told her I was on a crew team at college. She opened up and told me enthusiastically about her son. Later, we discussed the sofa and I asked, “Would you be willing to keep it if we can tighten the leg right now?” Not only did she keep the sofa, she made lunch for us. Then, she called my manager and complimented our service.”

This story takes less than one minute to tell. Notice that it portrays the speaker as confident and empathetic. It can be used to demonstrate skills in Customer Service, Negotiation and Communication. It’s a story that sets the speaker apart as a STAR.

Think about your past jobs and identify 5-7 stories of your own. When you are asked about your qualities, you can answer not only with a claim, but with proof.

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