How to Master the STAR Method: Use RATS Stories

How to Master the STAR Method: Use RATS Stories

Coaches and advisors in career transition today will tell you to develop your “STAR” stories to have the best results in interviewing.  Well, I am here to tell you the key to mastering this method is to use “RATS” stories instead.

First, what I mean by STAR story

What is a “STAR” story?  This acronym stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Results

It is a straightforward way to remember the important points you should be talking about in a job interview. It’s also a way to answer the behavioral interview questions.

However, when you use this format, you delay mentioning the thing companies care about most until the very last talking point: Results!

And here’s what I mean by a RATS story

Companies want to hear the results first!

  • Results
  • Action
  • Task
  • Situation

You are telling the end of the story, first. 

Why companies want to hear the results first

How do you make your stories leave a greater, stronger impression?

How do you leave your mark in a job interview?  

Turn your story around and start with the Results, first. This will keep the hiring manager or recruiter interested in your story.

As a result, they will end up learning more about you, which will lead to a more conversational job interview. Most importantly, the job interview will feel less like an interrogation.

Here is some great job interview and resume advice

I advise my clients to write out their favorite STAR story, first. Next, I ask them to edit the STAR story so that the most important Results and Actions are mentioned in the beginning.  

For best results throughout the job search process, start using results and actions in the resume, first. This way, your resume will get the decision maker's attention, which sets you up for using the RATS method when it comes time to job interview.

Here’s an example from a real resume

The snippet below is from a professional job seekers resume using the STAR method:

  • Lead conversion of 45 teams from xxxxxxx and xxxxxx allowing the entire Shopping Solutions department to utilize a single departmental tool which offered more modern software configuration management capabilities.

Now, let’s take this resume from good to great with the RATS method:

  • Led improved management capabilities through a conversion to a modernize software configuration utilizing one tool from start to finish for all sales processes within the Shopping Solution Department.

This bullet point leads off with the Result and Action, so the listener of your story now wants to know, “How did you do it?!”

In addition, it sounds more interesting than a story leading off by mentioning the characters in the story, first.  

Avoid the fluff and embrace the RATS

As mentioned above, use your “RATS” stories in your resume. Make sure all bullet points are important.

Do not fill them with fluff. Most people today have had enough outstanding experience and success that there is no need to add fluff to a resume.  

Also, do not lie on your resume or job application, not even through online job application forms.   It is a quick ticket to being tossed out of consideration, or worse, fired after a background check.

Here are some recommendations for your RATS stories

It is recommended that you develop at least 10 RATS stories using keywords, tasks or other requirements listed on the job description.  

If it is important enough for the company to list it on the job description, you can bet someone will ask a question about it. They will want to know how you have done the task before, achieved success, and will motivate yourself to accomplish specific goals the company has set.  

If you can make a case for why items on your resume prove you fit the job description, you are driving home what you have done and will soon be able to achieve for the new company.

You can also use phrases in an interview, “As noted on my resume…” to show them you are prepared, plus you have provided a resume tailored to this job description. You will be able to connect the dots for them, and what you told them in the first place, now becomes more powerful.   In other words, it gives continuity to your story overall.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to job interviews

Finally, I suggest you practice all RATS stories out loud in front of a mirror prior to an interview.  It is a best practice to take no more than 90-120 seconds to answer any question.

Most interviewers will zone out and stop listening after about two minutes. Your “RATS” story is even more powerful when the interviewer is still paying attention. Getting the results out quicker, instead of waiting until the last second of the story, avoids the issue of boring an interviewer out of listening.

Time to put the STAR method in reverse! Get your RATS stories on your resume and practice them for your next job interview!

Good Luck!

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