How do I use the STAR method for my Salesforce interview?

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Heading into your Salesforce interview, it’s really easy to focus entirely on your platform knowledge. However, we do notice that sometimes when a very impressive Salesforce candidate fails an interview, it can sometimes be because they have simply lacked structure to their answers, meaning they may have gone off-topic, and not always quite answered the question that was asked.

This is why we’re advocates for structure in your Salesforce interview answers, and we want to highlight STAR as one way of adding more structure and ultimately, more success to your Salesforce interview.

What is STAR?

The STAR method is basically your best friend when it comes to answering a behavioral interview question by following a pre-determined structure in your answer. Structure is easy in theory, but STAR makes it easy in practice. It’d essentially a template to follow, and by the end of this article, you’ll be an expert.

What’s a behavioral interview question?

These are in essence, questions about how you’ve behaved in your role in the past. The interviewer is listening out in your answer for indicators of your work style, your personality traits at work, and whether they align with the role that you’re interviewing for. So it’s a roundabout way of asking you about the way that you solve problems, how you deal with conflict, how you deal with pressure or stress, how you work amongst others or show initiative, without directly asking a question like, “How do you solve problems?”

Why might the STAR method help me?

The people that are going to benefit the most are those who lack structure when they speak. If you find that you sometimes struggle to give concise answers and tend to waffle, or if you find yourself often playing down your achievements, it will help. An interview seems like a natural place to talk about your achievements, but a lot of the time, we fail to mention them because we don’t quite know how to articulate them in a humble manner. The star method overcomes these challenges.

What does STAR actually stand for?

S stands for Situation
T stands for Task
A stands for Action
R stands for Result

By using all four of these concepts, you’ll find by default, that you’ll give a concise, yet comprehensive answer, which highlights your strengths.

So how can I recognise the best questions to apply STAR?

They’re easy to spot when you know how. Typically, listen out for questions that start a little something like this…

“Tell me about a time when…”
“What do you do when…”
“Have you ever…”
“Give me an example of…”
“Describe a…”

Okay, so how do I use the STAR method?

We’ll break it down. Imagine that you’ve been asked to “describe a time when” – in the question. For this example, we’ll imagine that it was, Tell me about a time when you were faced with a stressful situation and how you handled it.”

Situation: 

Think of a similar situation that the interviewer is asking you about, where you had a successful outcome.

For example: “I was leading a project team on a Salesforce implementation, and our client shifted the deadline forward by three weeks.”

Task:

What issue has this given you which could have given you stress? What do you need to resolve?

For example: “This would have a significant impact on the quality of our work unless the budget was revised to increase resources to meet the requested new deadline.”

Action:

What did you do about the issue you were faced with? Highlight in your answer the positive traits you demonstrated in this action (so, leadership, teamwork, initiative).

 

For example: “Leveraging the strong relationship that I had developed with my end-user client already, I took the time to understand what was driving them to want to change the deadline. Once I understood the detail as to why they wanted it to be shifted, and I understood what they needed, I could deliver the project to them in phases with the same headcount and budget.  Whilst the whole project wouldn’t be delivered in three weeks, the phase that they needed, would be. It would satisfy their needs, and there would be no increase in cost to them. I developed a phased delivery plan and proposed this to the client.”

Result:

What was the outcome, and how did you shine?

For example: “The client accepted the phased schedule, and we delivered the project to the original deadline, in phases. The client was very satisfied and as a result, we were appointed a new project with their sister company, worth $1 million to the business.”

You’ve answered the question, and you’ve been able to show how you upsold $1 million of business in a natural way.

How can I make my answers the best they can be?

Keep it simple and come armed with a few numbers to give context and meaning. In another example, it wouldn’t be nearly so impactful to describe a situation as “the project was completed and I did my usual sales part of my job”, instead of “the project was completed one week ahead of the deadline, and I finished the quarter 10% ahead of my sales goal”. There are numbers in there which give impact, and allow you to drop in your achievements in a natural way.

My mind often goes blank. What if I can’t think of an example?

If this is you, then you can always think of a handful of situations in your head beforehand, which would cover the commonest types of behaviors. Or if you can’t think of a work-related example, use one from outside of work, such as a situation with a team you play in for example or an event that you’ve organised. They’re listening for behaviors, rather than how it relates to their business too much.

It’s best not to practice over and over, as you don’t want to sound rehearsed. Prepare by jotting down some bullet points, but keep it natural.

You could always use this little tip if you get really stuck. Rather than saying, “I can’t think of one”, or giving an irrelevant example, you could always ask for a couple of seconds to gather your thoughts and think of a good one, or share a common situation that you see arise in the workplace and push ahead with the STAR method, caveating it with “…but if I had encountered a situation like that, this is how I would deal with it.”

So, lots to work with, and we wish you the best of luck with your Salesforce interview, armed with this technique.

We often share tips for job seekers on our Salesforce podcast channel, Talk Hub Talk. Make sure you give it a listen and don’t forget to subscribe to be alerted when a new episode has dropped!

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