You’ve been polishing your elevator pitch and working on your personal brand, and you’re ready for just about anything during your upcoming interview. But there’s one question that you’re dreading above all others: Why did you leave your last position?
If you left your last job involuntarily, most employers will want to know a little more about the circumstances surrounding this event. After all, if you were dismissed due to reckless negligence, ignorance of your responsibilities, or unprofessional behavior, they’ll want to factor this into their final hiring decision. It doesn’t mean you’ll be dropped immediately from the running, but it’s still something your potential employers will want to know about…probably.
On other hand, some employers won’t ask about these details and will give you the benefit of the doubt. And almost all responsible employers understand that involuntarily job loss usually has nothing to do with personal performance or bad behavior. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate this conversation when and if it comes up.
Don’t Bring It Up
Don’t assume you’re being proactive or helping your case if you jump in front of the subject before your employers ask about it. As far as you’re concerned, the entire conversation should focus solely on your strengths, your credentials, and your relevant experience. If your interviewer chooses to ask about this detail, answer politely and provide whatever information is requested of you. But if not, just let it lay.
Keep Red Flags out of Your Resume
As you complete your resume, state your dates of employment clearly and honestly. Attempts to fudge this information are usually much more transparent than most job seekers believe. And if your resume reveals a leaning toward sketchy behavior, this can spark an avalanche of skeptical questions during the interview.
Answer Completely, Directly, and Honestly
If you’re asked exactly why you were dismissed from your last job, don’t dodge the question, but don’t provide more information than necessary. Fine the fine line between downplaying a potentially serious issue and incriminating yourself by saying too much. If you were dismissed due to a layoff or cutback, just say so, and then redirect the conversation back to your strengths. If you were fired due to poor performance or a behavioral issue, simply explain what happened in your own words, and be brief but direct. Don’t over apologize, and don’t make excuses or blame someone else for your misdeeds. Just own your mistake, discuss what you learned from the incident, and move on.
Control the Drama
As you explain, keep reading your employers cues, gestures, and body language to determine when you’ve adequately addressed the subject and it’s time to move on. As soon as she seems ready to let the subject go, stop speaking.
For more on how to handle this potentially volatile issue and keep it from undermining your chances of landing a new job, reach out to the staffing experts at Lift Temp.