Are you unemployed? For how long? What happened with your last opportunity? Why are you no longer there?

Do you find it difficult to answer these questions in an interview setting? You are not alone – as the media reminds us on a daily basis, there are a lot of us that are not currently employed. That means that there is a huge percentage of Americans who face these challenging questions everyday in interviews and even worse, they do not know how to answer them with confidence.

Some people go the route of being vague – dance around the issue without bringing focus to it. Maybe the potential employer won’t notice – fat chance. If you are vague and skirt any direct questions about your current employment status- you will raise red flags. Your potential employer will think that you are hiding something. Now your plan has back fired and the conversation is now focused on a piece of your resume that does not even come close to representing what type of employee you are.

Some people take the diversion route. Essentially, people will avoid the answer all together. Here is my advice – be direct. Avoid using phrases like, “It is a long story…” or “It’s kind of tricky…” It is never that long or that tricky. Respect the person sitting across from you and make your answer be as direct as the question. Even if your story is not perfect, it is the truth and you are taking accountability.

Some people shade the truth or lie about their story. Here is my professional advice – Don’t. If you need a detailed explanation of why not – this blog is not for you.

My real advice is this – know your story and own it. We focus on sales roles at Treeline Executive Search, so the candidates I work with are at an advantage because they know about the power of positioning.

Before you can tell your story, answer these questions…truthfully:

  • Were you laid off or fired?
  • Were you the only one let go?
  • Were you given severance?
  • Did you leave on good terms?
  • Do you have a good reference(s) from your last company?

If you were laid off, your story sounds a little something like this:

“There was a major re-org in the company, my position was eliminated, I was given severance, I left on good terms and I have a good reference from there.”

If I am a hiring manager, I have zero concerns about the candidate after hearing that. If I still have concerns, I will make sure to check that reference.

If you were fired, your story is a little trickier, especially if you did not leave on good terms:

“I was with this company for a short period of time, I was hired to do this role and after 2 months on board , my role was changed. It did not sit well with me – the management and I decided that it would be better if I moved on. It is not ideal but it is the truth.”

I am not trying to give you canned responses here – don’t quote this verbatim. Instead, I want you to take a candid look at your resume and think about how you want to articulate you story. After all, you are the only one who is going to be asked to tell it.

Published On: February 7th, 2012Categories: Blog News, Interview Advice, Job Search and Career

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