Problems and Interviewing

Have you had a tough situation lately? Is there a long complicated explanation as to why you left your last job? Don’t get into a long discussion about it during your job interview. They don’t care what your problems are!

Here’s an example. I was working with a client recently practicing his interviewing skills.  I asked him why he left his previous job. He preceded to digress a little bit. Well, a lot. The truth is that he went on for about 20 minutes about his previous boss and the ethical dilemma he felt he was in and how he looked for a job and ended up being let go, etc. etc. I completely believe him. I really do. But his interviewer might not.

Another scenario is like the one I heard from a single mother in an interview. She described her arduous life as a single mother and how difficult it was, and she needed the money but she couldn’t make it to the job at the scheduled starting time, so could we please hire her but change the schedule?

Are you starting to see my point? I’m sure it was difficult for both of them but it’s not the kind of thing you need to go into a lengthy explanation about during the interview. The interviewer does not want to hear about your problems!

When you discuss problems in life or in a past job, you give the interviewer the impression that you are going to be a high maintenance person who has many difficulties, is going to be dealing with a lot of issues,and might not focus fully on the job. He/she will worry that you will come in late, leave early, call in sick,and just be too difficult. You won’t get the job!  So avoid any mention of life difficulties during the interview. If you are asked about a previous job during the interview, answer honestly, try to focus on the positive aspects of the position, and do not jabber.

I always like to include some tips, so here are some do’s and don’ts for the “Tell me about yourself” question:

  • Don’t start your history from birth
  • Do write down your answer or practice with someone beforehand so you can see if it makes sense and so it does not sound like a speech
  • Do consider preparing an outline on a 3 * 5 card so you can stay on track
  • Don’t respond with “What would you like to know?” This ball is in your court so tell them that which best represents you for the position.
  • Don’t shrug your shoulders or act like there’s nothing to tell about you.  If you can’t find anything good to say about yourself, why should the interviewer look closer?
  • Do inject some humor or lightheartedness into your answer (though not too much)

By: Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

© 2018 Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

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