Staying Positive in an Interview

In an interview you want to sell yourself to the hiring manager.  It is easy to focus on your strengths, your accomplishments and your transferable skills.  The challenge is how to address less positive aspects of your resume in a positive manner.  This requires careful consideration in advance so you are prepared to answer with confidence.  Here are some common challenges with suggestions of how to address them.

  • You were fired from a prior position
    • Honesty is the best policy since they will likely uncover the truth in a background check
    • Focus on what you learned from the experience and how you have turned things around since then
    • Don’t speak ill of the manager or the company
    • Be professional and own the situation, show that you learned from the experience
  • You were laid off
    • Explain the situation honestly, company was acquired, hit tough times, etc.  Downsizing is common unfortunately.
    • Talk about what you did to get yourself up and running again with a focus to find your new opportunity
    • What did you learn from the experience?
    • What valuable experience did you gain while you were there?
  • You have a significant gap in your resume
    • If you were travelling the world or stayed home to care for kids or an elderly relative, acknowledge it.  Be honest.  Talk about what you learned from the experience
    • If you were trying to find work, talk about what you did to build your network, explore career opportunities, etc.
    • Did you work part-time while you were searching?  Did you volunteer?
    • Focus on what you learned during this time and how it impacts your future plans
  • You lack relevant work experience
    • Do not focus on the skills you lack, talk about the transferrable skills you bring to the table
    • Talk about your interest and passion for the work and your ability to learn
    • Talk about how you successfully learned new things in the past
  • You changed jobs frequently
    • You can’t change history, it is what it is.  Have a story to explain it.  Make it part of your journey to discover the work you want to do and the type of company you want to work in.
    • Focus on the positive.
    • Emphasize what you learned from each experience.

Practice addressing these issues so you are prepared to do so comfortably in an interview setting.  Anticipate the questions in advance so you can put your best foot forward.  Most job applicants don’t have a perfect resume but they must be prepared to explain what they offer and how they reached this point in the journey.

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