A Guide to Presenting Your Experience during Job Interviews

By Samantha Anderson

Last Updated: February 6th 2023

Demonstrating your potential to a hiring manager, even without professional experience

How do I show my worth to a hiring manager if I haven’t gotten my first coding job yet?

Most job openings have YEARS of experience listed as a requirement for entry-level jobs… How am I supposed to get my foot in the door when all I’ve done is side jobs or work on personal projects?

These are very common questions and concerns for those starting out the task of trying to land their first web development job.

The answer is using the STAR format.

The STAR format is a proven method to present your web development experience and achievements to a hiring manager.

(Also, remember a lot of job descriptions and requirements are written by nontechnical folks who might not understand what is actually needed for the position. Always apply even if you don’t 100% fit the requirements!!!)

STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

It’s a way to organize your thoughts and explain them in a clear, concise, and structured manner.

If you are an aspiring web developer, it's important to know how to use the STAR format to highlight your skills and experience (especially if you haven’t worked in the industry yet!).

Here's how to use it.

  1. Situation: Describe the context in which you faced a challenge or opportunity related to web development. Be specific and provide details about the company, project, and timeline.
  2. Task: Explain what you were asked to do or what you wanted to achieve. Make sure to focus on your role and responsibilities, and be as clear as possible.
  3. Action: Detail the steps you took to complete the task. Emphasize your skills, knowledge, and problem-solving abilities. Highlight how you went above and beyond the requirements.
  4. Result: Summarize the outcome of your actions. Provide data, statistics, or feedback that shows the impact you had. If possible, highlight how your actions improved the situation or led to a successful outcome.

When you haven’t yet landed your first coding gig, consider each project you build to be a "job" you can place under professional experience on your resume.

If you need to build out your project portfolio, create jobs for yourself by considering what common problems you can solve.

Does a small local business need an updated responsive website for mobile?

Is there a problem in your current or past job you could solve with your new coding skill set?

How about open-source or volunteer projects for organizations you care about that you can contribute to?

Once you’ve created a few projects you are proud of, use the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to form four bullet points to clearly describe your work.

(For extra credit, include the GitHub and link each project on your resume as well.)

STAR examples if you do not have professional experience:

Example 1:

Situation: As a self-taught web developer, I wanted to gain practical experience and build my portfolio.

Task: I decided to create a personal project that showcases my skills in web development.

Action: I researched and identified a problem or need in the market and created a web application to solve it. I used technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and a framework such as React to build the application. I also made sure to test the application thoroughly and fix any bugs that were found.

Result: I successfully completed my personal project and added it to my portfolio. I received positive feedback from friends and family who tested the application, and I was proud to have created a functional web application on my own.

Example 2:

Situation: As a web development enthusiast, I wanted to create a project that utilizes my skills in full-stack development.

Task: I decided to build a recipe management web application that allows users to store and search for their favorite recipes.

Action: I used technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node.js, and MongoDB to create the application. I also implemented user authentication and authorization using JSON Web Tokens. I tested the application thoroughly and made sure it was user-friendly and intuitive.

Result: The recipe management web application was successfully launched and received positive feedback from friends and family. I was proud of my ability to create a full-stack web application, and the project helped me to improve my skills in front-end and back-end development.

STAR example if you have worked in the industry before:

Situation: During my internship at ABC Company, I was assigned to work on a project to improve the speed and performance of their e-commerce website.

Task: My role was to find ways to optimize the website's code and reduce the page load time.

Action: I conducted a thorough analysis of the website's code and identified several areas for improvement. I used techniques such as lazy loading, minifying CSS and JavaScript files, and optimizing images. I also collaborated with the team to implement these changes and tested the website's performance.

Result: The website's page load time improved by 60% and the number of page views increased by 20%. The company received positive feedback from customers, and my contributions were recognized by the management.

 

Using the STAR format, you can demonstrate your experience and achievements in a way that's easy to understand and remember.

By presenting your experiences clearly, you can help hiring managers see your value as a web developer and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

For further resume, job application, and interview help consider Nucamp’s Job Hunting Bootcamp for anyone seeking extra help and an edge in securing their first job.

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Samantha Anderson

Marketing Manager

Part Illustrator, part Graphic Designer, and part Digital Marketer—with a sprinkle of sales savvy and a dash of empathy. I'm all about using my creativity to craft captivating stories through both illustration and writing. When I'm not at my computer, you'll find me drawing nature inspired patterns and portraits on my other favorite screen: my iPad. To keep myself inspired (and to get away from my slight tech addiction) I garden, golf, and go on nature walks with my dog and cat leading the way.