Countdown to Career Fair in four weeks — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

Get ready to interview with STARR!

Some companies will conduct screening interviews at the career fair, and many will be holding first-round interviews on campus the very next day. In addition to doing research on the companies attending career fairs, perfecting your pitch and putting together your professional image, you also need to be ready for interviews. Students who have been to interview workshops, talked to professionals about interviewing or have done online research already know about the STAR format for answering questions in an interview.

S – Briefly describe the Situation
T – Explain the Task to accomplish (or your role)
A – Describe the Actions you took (highlighting the skills you used)
R – Show the Results

I am going to suggest that you improve the process by adding a second R: Relevance to the position.

To quote Vicki Fox, the Associate Director of the Fulton Schools Career Center (who is also an experienced interviewer), “This is your chance to wrap your answer in fancy paper with a giant, shiny bow and give the interviewer a gift — with confetti streaming out of the package.” (Do you get the impression that you can make a really big, positive impact?)

Suppose you question is: “Tell me about a time that you had to prioritize several tasks and responsibilities in order to meet multiple deadlines.”

You describe a scenario with class projects, student organization activities, exams and work assignments all converging on you. You talk about how you went about deciding, arranging and rearranging priorities. You discuss your thought process and include how you communicated and collaborated with others. (This is where you want to be specific and paint a verbal picture that illustrates the challenges and shows your strengths.) Finally, you show the results by explaining how you successfully met each deadline.

Rather than stopping here, you are going to go one step further and show the interviewer how you are the best person for the position, and are beneficial to the company. (Remember, everyone who is involved in the hiring process wants to see what’s in it for them.)

So, you add, “I know that it often happens in the workplace that additional responsibilities can be added at the last minute, and people have to make changes or take on additional work. I have experience in handling multiple responsibilities and knowing how to prioritize. I am flexible and willing to work extra time when needed. I am confident that I will be a valuable member of your team.”

Show your enthusiasm! Make sure you let them know that you really want the job!


Joyce Donahue is a Career Counselor in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Center. She is a nationally certified career counselor and holds “Master Career Counselor” membership status in the National Career Development Association.