Addressing 'Skeletons' in the Interview
Again- Yahoo publishes another job related article. Its not totally fire srevice related, but its up to you to pick out the nuggets..Bou
Addressing 'Skeletons' in the Interview
Joe Turner, for Yahoo!
Here's a scenario that trips up many candidates: You're about to have a phone screen, or even a face-to-face interview, and you have one of the following difficult situations on your resume.
You've been out of work a long time.
You were fired from your last job (or any job).
You had a worker's comp claim filed.
You have a criminal record.
You have some other "skeleton in the closet" they will find out about, and you just know that this will become an issue.
How do you address this? Do you address it at all?
The Skeletons Emerge
Consider a job interview or a phone screen a "discovery process" where the interviewer is attempting to uncover strengths as well as weaknesses. They will uncover weaknesses; it's their job. So if you have any "skeletons" in your closet, they'll eventually come out. Many of us harbor a skeleton or two in our backgrounds. Most are no big deal. Some, however, can become major showstoppers to a job offer.
If you have a skeleton in your work history, don't wait for a major objection to come up in the interview. Instead, go on the offense and address the situation directly, which is very similar to a sales technique called "bragging about your objection."
Avoid Being Defensive
Let's say you're interviewing for a particular position, but you hadn't worked at a "real job" for almost 18 months. This is because you took time off to care for an ailing parent and perhaps also took some night classes to strengthen some software skills. One approach is to proceed with the interview and pretend this gap doesn't exist, hoping perhaps that the interviewer won't notice it. But of course, she does. She brings this up as an objection later on in the interview, and you're left to explain it.
You're now on the defensive, and it's hard to regain any high ground. At this point, the only thing that's on the mind of the interviewer is this gap, and possibly the fact that you tried to hide it. End of interview. No hire.
Here's an alternative: You walk in and greet the interviewer and begin to talk about why you would like to work for this particular company. But then you stop and say, "However, there is one thing I want to point out right now. You'll notice that I wasn't working from (insert dates). And here is the reason..." You then proceed to tell him about your 18-month gap.
Here is where you position your "objection" in your best possible light. Then let the interviewer decide if this is a showstopper. As he thinks it over, there is the human tendency to assess it up front and minimize it. He'll often say something like, "I'm glad you brought this out," and then proceed with the interview. You can now resume your interview knowing the gap has receded in the interviewer's mind as a major objection. Of course, if the gap was a big problem, the interviewer will likely say so at this point. The interview will be over, and little time was wasted on either side.
Rewards, Instead of Excuses
The benefits you gain by taking the up-front approach are:
You retain the control of your interview.
You get to tell your story without feeling defensive.
You'll earn respect for being open and honest.
You'll save time and anguish.
You can use this same approach in any interview. Much like the example above, you already know that "a long time between jobs" -- or whatever your "weakness" is -- is going to be discovered and brought up as an objection. Therefore, take the initiative to bring this objection up near the beginning of the interview. You have everything to gain in the process.
As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Discover more of his job-search insights by visiting www.jobchangesecrets.com.