During an interview, you may expect both situational and behavioral questions.
These types of questions often begin with "Tell me about a time when...". Responses to situational questions are meant to reflect how you handle a particular circumstance using your experiences as an example.
Behavioral questions tend to begin with "What would you do if...". Such questions are often hypothetical and look for how you think through scenarios and why.
To guide your answers for both situational and behavioral questions, consider using the STAR approach.
This strategy allows you to have a concise response that addresses the key points to prevent rambling and potentially losing your audience.
Situation – Briefly describe the situation to set the scene for your story (2-3 sentences)
Task – Describe the task you were assigned or what you were trying to accomplish
Action – Describe the action that was taken (pay particular attention to what you did). Here is where you want to answer their specific question.
Result – Make sure you end with the positive result as the conclusion to your story
Let's see it in action...
"Tell us about a time when you had a conflict and how you dealt with it?"
Situation - "In my most recent business class, we had a group project consisting of myself and four other members. One of my group members was not adhering to the deadlines and coming to our meetings unprepared. This was beginning to negatively affect our group dynamic."
Task - "We were responsible for creating a business plan simulation for a client. Each member was accountable for submitting a portion of the project by certain deadlines which were agreed upon by the whole group."
Action - "Rather than assuming this individual did not care about the group's success, I took initiative by talking with the student individually to understand what was going on in their life and more importantly, how we as a group could help."
Result - "Turns out the student was having trouble in that class, but was too embarrassed to ask for help. This person was very thankful that I reached out and was willing to listen. Now that I understood what was going on, I could facilitate more productive group meetings where everybody was up to speed. At the end, we submitted a very thorough and well-constructed business plan and received an A!"