How to Prepare for Tough Interview Questions


Job gap? Resignations? Terminations?

You can be sure that “questionable” items in your history will be brought up during the interview. The key to getting the job is knowing how to answer these questions with an eye towards giving a satisfactory answer and then moving on to a more positive subject. Here are tips for addressing certain items in your job history.

You were “terminated” from a prior job.

The hiring manager is wondering if you were a problem for your previous employer and if you will be a problem for them. As you address those questions, you also have to be careful not to paint a former manager or employer in a negative light. When asked about a termination from a prior job, don’t try and justify your position to the Hiring Manager, simply give an answer that stays vague, shows that you are ready to move on, and then quickly switches subjects to something that can show off your strengths. For example:

“There were some differences of opinion between my boss and I, and I was let go. I accept responsibility for my part in not resolving them and I learned a lot from that experience. I still respect my previous employer and I am ready to move on to an opportunity where I can help ____________. What is your first focus for the position you have?”

You resigned from a recent job.

Hiring Managers understand that candidates are going to change jobs from time to time, but they want to be assured that they are hiring someone who is serious about growing with the company. When answering questions about prior resignations, show that you left on good terms and without leaving the employer in the lurch. As with a termination, use the last part of the answer to steer the conversation towards another subject. For example:

“I knew that I was ready for a change, but I didn’t want to take my focus off the job if I was going to keep working there. So I did what I believed was the right thing and left the job, to allow them to get someone who was in it for the long haul and to allow myself some time to ponder my next steps. What are some of the department’s best team attributes?”

You have a noticeable gap in between jobs.

Hiring Managers understand that gaps between jobs are inevitable. What they want to see, though, is that the time off was valuable to you. If you took training courses or did charity work, it’s good to mention those in your response. If not, just mention that the time off made you a better professional moving forward. For example:

“Well, my time away from traditional work has brought even more value to future positions for me as you can see. I understand this position needs someone to hit the ground running. What is the most immediate challenge I would be able to focus on and solve in the first few months?”

One thought on “How to Prepare for Tough Interview Questions

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  1. You forgot to include being laid off. That is important to address as well. For example: “My position was impacted during a company reorganization process”.

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