Be a STAR at Behavioral Questions

STAR interview techniqueTell me about a project you’ve initiated, how you went about it and the results.  WHAT?  This question is an example of behavioral interview questions.  This type of interview question is being used more and more by employers.  Encountering a question like this in an interview can throw you off if you are unprepared.  The key to answering these effectively is to use the STAR technique.

S is for Situation.  What was going on?  Set it up so the interviewer understands the circumstances.

T is for Task.  What was your role in the project?

A is for Action.  How did you perform your role?  Be sure to discuss any challenges that developed in the midst of the project.  Challenges often develop including illness, computer breakdowns and busy schedules.  However, these challenges must be dealt with because your “customer” still wants the product.

R is for Results.  How did the project end?  Did you get an A or increase profits?  It’s acceptable to say “I planned this event, and it didn’t go as I would have liked.  Next time, I plan to do A, B and C differently.”

Here’s an example of an answer using the STAR technique:

For my Marketing 300 class, we had to complete an analysis of a company’s marketing plan and present the results to the class in a group.  I served as the group leader ensuring that each member met the assigned deadlines.  We created the PowerPoint presentation as a group in the computer lab since the assigned person had computer problems.  The class and instructor loved the presentation and we earned an A.

Succeeding with behavioral interview questions takes preparation before the interview.

Posted on February 4th, 2016 by

What’s Up With Resume Wizards

resume wizardAre they a valuable tool or something to be avoided?  The answer probably depends on who you ask and what your needs are.

Resume wizards work really well for individuals who have never written a resume before.  The value is that the wizard shows how to develop the resume and what information to include.  However, for many individuals, the wizard resume will not showcase your skills/qualifications in the best possible light.  But, if the wizards are standard in Microsoft Word and other word processing programs doesn’t that mean that’s the right way to do a resume?

In my opinion, no.  I used to work as a recruiter for a staffing agency, and I reviewed a lot of resumes.  The resumes done with wizards especially those from Microsoft Word are obvious.  Anyone who works with resumes on a regular basis can spot them immediately.  When students bring in resumes developed with wizards, I always look at them and say “oh, you used a wizard”.  What used to run through my mind as I reviewed wizard resumes from college graduates was this individual didn’t ask for help on the resume.  As a recruiter, I interfaced with college career centers regularly, so I knew help was available to students on most college campuses.  Career Centers are not likely to approve a resume wizard from a student.  What crossed my mind next was this individual has earned a college degree and should be able to produce a better document.  Remembering that your resume is a critical piece of job search documentation, it should be a demonstration of your highest quality work.

Consistency is extremely important in resumes.  Some wizards use different sizes or fonts throughout the resume.  Most wizards don’t allow you to move sections around because the wizard has a pre-determined order for them.  Each resume is unique to the individual it’s created for because the resume needs to sell this individual for his/her career/field.  Some will list their education first while others will list their experience first.  Some will have long lists of technologies while others list a large amount of community service or volunteer activities.  The key to having an effective resume is to identify the field of interest and then target your strongest selling points relative to that field.  These qualifications are what you want to emphasize throughout the resume.  See the resume samples at to get started creating yours today.

Posted on January 26th, 2016 by

Inspiration Leaders

InspirationThe movie Bring It On is about two high school competitive cheerleading squads.  One is from the suburbs of San Diego while the other is an inner city squad.  The inner city squad writes a letter to a talk show host with a wish to be sent to the national competition.  Their letter reads:

“Dear Pauletta:

Where we come from cheer is not a word that you hear very often, but that’s what we are, the cheerleaders of East Compton High School.  They should really call us inspiration leaders, because that’s what we do.  We inspire the people from our neighborhoods to believe that our team can win.  That’s why we’re asking you to fulfill our wish to send us to the national cheerleading competition for the first time.”

I think many people serve as inspiration leaders to the people around them.  As a Career Coach, I encourage people to strive to make their dreams come true.  They call me when they are frustrated and stressed.  I try to provide a positive attitude, encouragement, and hope for the future.  Recently, I student told me “I always feel better after talking to you.”  I encourage everyone to look for ways to be inspiration leaders to those around you.

Posted on January 20th, 2016 by

The Impossible Dream

dream the impossible dream

Thinking about the future can be difficult as we have a tendency to focus on the roadblocks in front of us rather than opportunities. I’ve heard students say “I’d really like to do this, but because of a, b and c, I can’t.” I understand – roadblocks can seem insurmountable. The words of Don Quixote come to mind:

“To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe. . .
To try, when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star!
This is my Quest to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far”

So, dream the dream and look for ways to break down the roadblocks along the way. Think of it as a quest rather than a sprint. Give yourself time and you’ll find it easier to get there.

Posted on January 12th, 2016 by

New Goals

Goals concept on blackboard

The beginning of a new year is a time many use to review progress and set new goals.  One of the keys to this process is to map out the steps to achieve each goal.  Rewards along the way for achieving key steps can be useful to help you stick with your new plans.  You can use this for many areas of your life including career development.  What can this look like?  Perhaps, you want to apply for a specific number of positions or make a certain number of new connections each week.  Or, perhaps you volunteer to join a new committee or tackle a new project a work.

In career development, it’s useful to map out goals for a longer period of time.  You can also create five year plans which lay out goals for each year.  Then, the yearly goals become action steps towards the overall goal.  It’s often useful to think about where you’d like to be in five years and then work backwards to come up with the goals for each year.

Just remember to keep the goals realistic so you can stick to your plans.  Also, realize that unexpected things come up, so yearly review and readjustment is an important step as well.

Posted on January 5th, 2016 by