Interview skills

Answering difficult questions and what NOT to ask at interview!

Think about this:

Pre-empt any difficult questions you might be asked by thinking about these in advance. Do you have gaps in your employment history? Were you fired from your last job? Have you had a lot of short-term jobs?

Take time before the interview to think about and write down your answers to some of the difficult questions you are likely to get asked.

Forbidden topics - money, benefits, office tour, overtime

Never bring up money on your first interview. If they ask what you're making, be honest but tell them that you feel it's probably premature to talk money at this point and, besides, you're interested in evaluating the entire opportunity rather than the salary alone. Let them know that you're confident that you both can work out a fair offer if you are both interested in moving forward. Don't ask about benefits information or to take an office tour. Those things will come at a later time. And never ever bring up overtime, even in a positive way. The interviewer will almost always remember that overtime was discussed during the interview, and they will perceive it negatively, regardless of how you positioned it. If you want to express that you work hard and long hours, let them know that you do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Want, not Need

Companies don't like to hire people who seem desperate. Interview with a confident style that shows you want the job, but don't give the impression that you need the job - even if you desperately need the job. If you have been out of work for a while and have been getting a lot of rejections, an interviewer may ask you what your interviewing experience has been the past few months. Let them know you are having a very positive experience evaluating companies and opportunities. Tell them you are being selective in your interviewing process to find the right opportunity for yourself.

Laid off or Fired

It is always awkward to let an interviewer know why you left your last job if you were laid off or especially if you were terminated for cause. Never lie when asked. While it might be unfair, many hiring managers assume the poorest performers are cut when layoffs occur. Be prepared to answer your layoff question with information that will dispel any assumption someone might have about cutting the poor performers. Try to show that there was a specific business reason behind your layoff. Your department was eliminated. The office was moved. The product you supported was being discontinued, etc. Being terminated for cause is always difficult to answer. Never use the word "fired" when describing your situation and instead use a softer term like "let go". Do not go into great detail about the circumstances and do not express anger, blame, or a grudge.

Speak with confidence when discussing the situation and do not appear meek or apologetic. Look the person in the eye the entire time you are discussing what happened. If possible, offer a reference at the company who will give you a solid reference about performance. If you can't get a reference at the company that terminated you, find a reference at a previous company that will give a reference to help show you are a solid performer and offer up that information at the time of discussing your termination with the interviewer. If you show that you are uncomfortable and lack confidence when discussing this subject, you will give an interviewer the impression that there is little doubt the last company made the right decision.

To get more information on how to round up the interview effectively go to: Last impressions count too!

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