Part 1 of this series was just a warm-up, Part 2 guides you through answering the 3 most dreaded and awkward interview questions which can quickly blow your chances of getting your foot through the door.
1. “Have you ever been let-go from a job before? If you have, why?”
This one is a doozy and can catch you off guard. Refrain from panicking and painting your previous employer in a bad light. Blaming, or displaying hostility towards your former employer is an absolute no-no as it makes you look bitter and resentful. Even if it was your old boss’ fault, the new company has no idea where the truth lies and it will only make you look bad.
You don’t need to go into details, acknowledge what happened and what you learnt from the experience. For example, you could say you were new to the previous position and inexperienced when it came to communicating effectively with your boss about teamwork. You felt you didn’t suit the company and you were let-go before you were given an opportunity to shine.
Make clear that your previous job taught you how important effective communication is amongst teams and you hold no hard feelings towards your old boss.
If you were downsized from your last job then tell them. Downsizing is not a reflection upon your own performance.
Whatever your explanation, keep the account honest, but don’t let your answer reflect badly upon yourself. If, for example, it is a clear case of a new manager coming in who has brought with them a member from their old team to replace you, then say so.
2. “There are gaps in your resume. How do you explain them?”
In these economic times it’s a wonder why this question even still gets raised. Numerous companies across the board have slackened, or completely halted hiring over the last few years, and life events, plus medical emergencies also mean many professionals have to take a break whether they’d like to or not.
Whether it’s professionals suffering from stints of unemployment due to lack of work opportunities, professionals taking time-out to look after their new children, or those who through no fault of their own have been struck out of the workforce due to illness, they all have legitimate reasons for having gaps on their resumes.
If this question is posed, refer to your references to validate what you claim to have been doing during your time off work.
Stay truthful and try and turn it into a strength. Show you haven’t been lazy, that you have been keeping tabs on the sector you work in. If you’ve been reading books by experts in your field, say so and mention names, if you’ve been reading the news and looking at trends, mention it. You get my drift.
Make clear to the interviewer you are keeping your mind engaged even though your body may not be physically at the workplace.
For more info on dealing with resume gaps, take a look at our "Explain Resume Gaps & Land that Job" article:
3. “Has there ever been a time when a co-worker didn’t take care of their fair share of the work? If so, how did you handle it?”
Here the interviewer is trying to gauge how you will handle difficult clients and staff.
Be honest, but tread lightly.
If it applies you could say the co-worker was dealing with a personal issue and you were understanding of their situation and glad to help out. You should mention you pulled the co-worker aside later to clear the air. This shows you don’t shy away from confrontation and you don’t let resentment fester, instead you handle it and move on.
If you loved this article then you will also find Part 1 helpful: