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Reach for the S.T.A.R.s: How to Prepare for a Behavioral-Based Interview at Schwab

By Andie Teresi, Associate, Talent Acquisition

Preparing for a job interview can be stressful – from the extensive search through job postings to updating resumes, applying, and finally hearing back from a company after a long pause of silence. After all of that, it seems like one last thing is standing in your way of getting the job – the interview. 

Interviewing is a necessary and essential piece of the job application process. For both the interviewer and the interviewee, the conversation that happens between one another reveals a lot about the other person and the firm. It’s a chance to find out more about the company, the role you’re applying for, and sometimes the opportunity to learn more about yourself.

Depending on what type of role you’re applying for, interviewing can look quite different from one person to the next. Here at Schwab, we pride ourselves on providing a consistent and thorough interviewing process that is replicated during each interview, so everyone has a fair chance at an open position.

Our particular interviewing approach stems from a behavioral-based interviewing methodology. What does this mean exactly? To answer this question, let’s look at what one of our Talent Advisors offered for advice and further information on the best way to prepare for an interview at Schwab.

What is Behavioral-Based Interviewing?

Monica L. has been working at Schwab for almost 4 years now and is a certified Interviewing at Schwab trainer. Interviewing at Schwab is a training program that Talent Advisors and Hiring Managers go through to get well versed and certified in the art of interviewing. She also helped with leading the process team for converting Interviewing at Schwab to a virtual format. For those wondering what behavioral-based interviewing is or what it consists of, Monica puts it simply: “Past behavior often predicts future behavior.” What Monica means by this is that “I need to leave the interview feeling like I know exactly how someone would handle a situation here at Schwab based on how they handled the situation similar to that in their current environment. So rather than being hypothetical or very high level, I look for specificity and providing answers that are complete – not just saying what you did, but providing enough context to say, this is what was going on and completing a S.T.A.R.  

Anatomy of the S.T.A.R. 

For those not familiar with what a S.T.A.R. is, it’s an acronym that helps people remember how to best answer a behavioral-based interviewing question, including describing the Situation or Task at hand, Action, and Result that happened in a specific situation. Here at Schwab, S.T.A.R.s are a way Talent Advisors and interviewers assess candidates on how well they would perform the job and how their past behavior predicts their future behavior if they were to work at our firm.

Infographic displays a star with the acronym described as Situation/Task, Action, and Result.

So, what does a good S.T.A.R. entail? To give the best, most informative S.T.A.R., Monica offers her advice on what to make sure candidates include: “It goes back to three areas: being specific, relevant, and recent. Those are the three areas that we look for. As an interviewer, I am thinking ‘Did I get a complete picture? Do I have the full story? How recent is that example and how relevant is that example?’ From a sales perspective, the candidate may have experience in selling something in a different industry, but the foundation of the selling is what I’m looking for. So being able to tie it back to the relevance.”

Where to Start 

For any candidate that isn’t familiar with behavioral-based interviewing, Monica recommends starting with intention and the importance of remembering your ‘why’: “Think about why you want this role or why you feel you’re qualified for this role and write down examples and situations that based on your understanding of the role. Why do you think that you’re qualified? Why do you think that you’re the best candidate? I think it’s important to start with the ‘why’. Why am I interested in this? Why am I a good fit for this? Why am I better than any other candidate for this? It starts with intention. Then I think you can build on what are some specific examples.” A good resource to help with this step is the job posting itself. Referring back to the job posting allows you to see how your skills and experience align with the qualifications or requirements of the role.

Be Prepared 

Part of acknowledging your ‘why’ and intention is also being prepared, which Monica emphasized is a big piece of being successful during your behavioral-based interview: “If you can’t answer the questions of why do you want to work here or why you’re a good fit for this job and what your understanding is, going into the behavioral part will be tough. Instead, try to connect with something that we’re doing or ask questions to gather more information to leverage when you share why you want to be a part of the team.” Be able to clearly articulate your work history and transitions that you’ve had.

Lastly, Monica also wanted to call out that engaging in an interview at Schwab is also a great way to be exposed to certain characteristics about our culture: “In Schwab interviewing, you’re going to get your first taste of just truly how collaborative and team-oriented we are because you’re typically going to have a minimum of 3 people interviewing you, meaning a Talent Advisor and 2 Hiring Managers. It’s very rare where it’s just a TA interview and one Hiring Manager interview and that’s it.”

What to Remember 

As you’re going forward in your preparation for interviewing at Schwab, let’s recap some important takeaways to keep in mind so you can Own Your Tomorrow:

  1. Past behavior predicts future behavior
  2. Answer in S.T.A.R. format
  3. Be specific, relevant, and recent
  4. Know your ‘why’ and intention
  5. Ask the necessary questions you need to feel good about pursuing an opportunity at Schwab

For a list of current job openings and more information about our career opportunities, visit our careers site here.