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Behavioral Interview Training in Engineering Classes

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Adaptive and Supportive Learning Environments

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering and Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.251.1 - 25.251.10

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Paper Authors


Julie E. Sharp Vanderbilt University

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Julie E. Sharp, Associate Professor of the practice of technical communication, has taught written and oral communication in the Vanderbilt University Engineering School for more than 20 years. She has published numerous articles and presented successful workshops on communication and learning styles. As a consultant, she has edited and written documents and conducted workshops for educators, industry, and professional organizations. In 2004, she earned the ASEE Southeastern Section's Thomas C. Evans Award for "The Most Outstanding Paper Pertaining to Engineering Education.” Sharp received her B.A. from Belhaven University and her M.A.T., M.A., and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.

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Abstract Proposal for a Paper ASEE 2012 Behavioral Interview Training in Engineering ClassesOne of the most important oral presentations required of engineering students is a job interview.Engineering students often face interviews for internships, research positions, scholarships, andjobs. Thus, interviewing well is an important skill that they need to acquire. Preparing studentsfor this possibly life changing task can reap benefits for professors who seek to integratecommunication skills in the engineering classroom. Professors can add a short module in theirclasses to provide students with a strategy to help them perform well in an interview. The authorhas included this training in a technical communication course for all engineering majors and thetechnical communication portion of a chemical engineering lab. This paper discusses aparticular strategy, the STAR method, used to prepare students for answering almost anybehavioral interview question.The STAR method is an effective method for acing the job interview. STAR is an acronym forSituation, Task, Action, Results. When asked an interview question, the interviewee thinks of aspecific situation to describe. Then he or she defines the task or goal to be accomplished.Following that, the student describes specific actions taken to achieve that goal. These specificsshow to the interviewer the student in action. In the final step, the student explains the positiveresults of these actions. With the student’s guidance, the interviewer sees the student as aproactive, productive worker.Students appreciate this practical instruction because it arms them with a tool for performingwell in a stressful situation. Some students think they need to find a large number of interviewquestions from various sources and memorize answers to them. This time-consuming, non-productive exercise often paralyzes students before they even begin to prepare. There is no needto memorize answers to numerous questions. The student learns to assess his or her experiencesand describe them to fit particular questions.The paper describes the use of the STAR interview response, in-class workshop training, practiceusing sample questions, and an interview chart assignment. The author suggests techniques forusing this strategy in large or small classrooms.The success of using the STAR method in class is assessed is several ways. One way assessesstudents’ answers to a questionnaire asking how well they think they met course objectives oninterview skills and how much they value or use the method. Another is through examining asample of answers to behavioral questions before and after students learn the STAR technique.

Sharp, J. E. (2012, June), Behavioral Interview Training in Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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