No matter how much we prepare ahead of time for an interview, there’s bound to be one or two questions thrown our way that are just plain hard to answer. Every interviewer wants to know why you’re leaving your current position or why there was a gap on your resume since your last point of employment, but consequently, those are also the most difficult questions to answer. How do you communicate a bad experience in a previous position without turning recruiters off? What if you decided to take a year off of work? Since you’ll most likely be making your first impression during the interview, it’s important to understand how a hiring manager may perceive what you say. Having made many hiring decisions in the past, Christie certainly has her fair share of advice to share about the dos and don’ts of answering the unanswerable.
Christie: “I know that job seekers want to be honest with their interviewers, but it’s important to view yourself through the eyes of a hiring manager first. Although you may have had a bad experience in a past position, I always tell candidates to never play the role of the victim, even if your past management was at fault. No interviewer wants to hear a candidate bad-mouthing their previous company in any way because we will immediately wonder what you may say about OUR company if we were to hire you. Internal company discord should be kept separate from the interview discussion. If asked the question of why you are leaving your current company, try and keep the topic of the conversation on the new company. Perhaps your old job didn’t offer you enough growth opportunities which you believe the new position would? Do you feel like the culture of the new company is a better fit for your personality and style? These are all great ways to keep the focus of the interview on why you want to work for the company you are interviewing for while still answering the original question of why you are leaving your previous role. Even if the situation was bad, never let the “bad” and “negatives” creep into your interview. Stay focused and also positive!
Similarly, a gap between the present and your previous term of employment could raise red flags for the interviewer. We want to confirm that you weren’t fired or let go from your previous position. The interviewer is probably wondering why you didn’t wait to find a new job first before resigning from your previous post. A good way to approach this question is to attribute the period of absence from employment to self-improvement of any sort. Even if you were just taking a break to switch gears, make sure that you don’t come off as lazy in any way. Instead, frame the time off as a means to work on yourself so that you could become better for it. It’s important to reassure the interviewer that you are most definitely ready to re-enter the work force with all of the newfound takeaways from your period of absence. Remember, everyone wants a go-getter! And while a lot of what you say comes down to the delivery itself, your words do have an impact on how the interviewer will perceive you. If you are unsure, then air on the side of caution when answering tough questions, while placing a larger emphasis on what you can bring to the new role. ”
Photo: Laura McIntosh
By: Anna Zhao
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