Job Seekers

Using the STAR method to nail your Facilities Management interview

February 23, 2022
Demi Grady

Demi Grady

Demi Grady is a recruitment consultant in our FM management team. She recruits Facilities Managers, Account Managers and Contract Managers in Hard FM and Total FM organisations.

Whether you’ve done one interview or one hundred, the night before you’re due to interview is always a little bit nerve-wracking.

You want to nail it. You know you’re a great facilities manager, and you want to prove it to your interviewer.

Here’s the key to ridding yourself of anxiety by making sure your interview responses are spot on, every time.

No stumbling over your words.

No getting caught off guard.

No rambling around the subject and hoping you land on an answer somewhere.

 

For every competency question you’re asked, use the STAR method to answer. This will ensure you’re responding with an actual example of your abilities. 

the STAR method:

And using this it will help you to answer every question in your interview like the expert you are.

Typical interview questions for a facilities manager include:

  • Tell me about a time you have dealt with a crisis and how you went about it…
  • Can you describe a time when you overcame an issue with maintenance workers, vendors, or other stakeholders?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you have helped implement sustainability plans

Using the STAR framework in your responses to questions like these will demonstrate your experience, your expertise and your character, and leave your interviewer with no doubt that you’re capable of doing the job.

Step 1 - (the bit most people forget):

woman in an interview preparing to use STAR

Take a breath. Give yourself a minute to digest the question and consider your answer. Try to work out what the interviewer is trying to learn about you by asking this question.

Do they want to hear about your patience, your communication skills, your leadership ability, your team-working experience, your conflict management skills, your technical ability?

Knowing this will help you to choose the right situation to talk about, so don’t rush into your answer. Take your time and make and educated guess as to what the interviewer wants to learn about here.

Step 2 - Situation (setting the scene):

People love stories. Stories help to keep people engaged and interested. They help put across complex points in a simple way. So think of your STAR response as a story – a way of getting across your skills and experience in a simple but engaging way.

And stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. The ‘S’ or ‘Situation’ section of your STAR response is were you outline the situation you were in.

 

For example, if you’ve been asked about a time you had to deal with a crisis you might say:

When I was working at my previous company there was flooding in the building due to Storm Eunice, and it was down to me as the facilities manager to find a solution to this crisis. The flooding happened overnight, and the building was due to open to the public at 9am, with colleagues arriving from 7am, so there was a time pressure on sorting the issue out.

Step 3 - Task (explain your responsibilities):

In all good stories there is a hero. In this story, you’re the hero. But before you jump into your heroic action, you need to explain to your interviewer why you’re the hero. The ‘T’ or ‘task’ part of your answer is your opportunity to outline the task at hand – the part you play in the wider team, and any specifics you might need to highlight.

 

For example, in your flooding incident, you might say:

As the facilities manager it was my responsibility to respond to this incident. Given that there was a time pressure, I needed to make sure that decisions were made quickly and communicated to relevant teams and stakeholders as soon as possible. I had to minimise the impact caused by flood and reduce or prevent any mid- or longer-term implications. I had to work closely with the contingency planner, the building owner, and our engineering contractors to resolve the immediate issue.

Step 4 - Action (tell them what you did):

Now it’s time to jump into the heroics. The ‘A’ part of your answer is all about the ‘action’ you took. This is the section of the story where you talk about exactly what you did. Remember at the beginning when you worked out what the interviewer wanted to hear? This is where you tell them about it. Tell them the way you worked well with others to solve the situation. Tell them what you did to inspire your team. Tell them which technical skills you used to resolve the problem.

 

To continue with the flooding example, you might say:

Initially, I followed the emergency response procedure; I assessed the risk, and levels of damage, and it was evident that the back section of the ground floor was uninhabitable. I had to make a quick decision, as staff were due to arrive at work in 2 hours.

To mitigate any risk to staff and visitors we closed off the entire area, and called in extra support from our mobile cleaning team. I communicated with the relevant team managers, advising them on the safest way forward for their teams, and on my advice, all staff working in that area were contacted to WFH.

After securing and cordoning off the affected area, we were able to create a safe route for building users and visitors so the could continue their day with as little disruption as possible.  

Following this, I documented and reported the risk and findings and recommended the following steps for the company to follow to ensure that all workers would be able to return to a safe working environment…

Step 5 - Results (time to brag):

In the final section of your story – the ‘R’ or ‘results’ section, it’s time to big up your achievements. Tell your interviewer what the outcome was – this is the happily ever after part.

You successfully navigated the situation and landed on a positive outcome – for the business, for your team, for your client, or possibly for yourself. It’s always a good chance to talk about what you’ve learned too.

So with our flood, you might round up by saying:

Due to my actions, only a small number of employees were affected, and they were communicated with promptly so that they could effectively work from home. The building was able to open to the majority of users, meaning minimum disruption. By bringing in extra cleaning support we were able to make sure damage was minimised. To prevent this happening in the future, I put a number of things in place, including using a one-way valve on toilets and drainage pipes to decrease the risk of sewage backing up into a building, and investing in removable barriers for doors and windows.

Use the star method for your next interview!

And that’s the secret! Walk into every interview with the confidence that you can communicate your expertise and answer any competency question with ease. You’ll stand out from the crowd and prove to yourself and your interviewer that there’s no one better for the job than you.