Why did you leave your last job? Why have you been unemployed so long? What are your weaknesses? Those are just a few of the questions that job candidates dread being asked. They can be hard and even painful to answer. But don’t just hope they don’t come up. Instead, take control of your job search by preparing to confidently answer them.
In our research with employers at Attract Jobs NOW, we have learned that how you answer the toughest questions can be the deciding factor whether you get hired. Here are three tips to follow to turn those tough interview questions into opportunities for success:
1. Prepare for the tough questions. Very often it’s not the answers to them that make the difference but the interviewee’s demeanor and noticeable nervousness when they’re asked. You can minimize that by preparing answers before the interview and rehearsing your delivery. Once you’ve figured out what the questions are that you most fear, practice answering them in front of a mirror. That may seem a little awkward, but it’s highly effective. It lets you be sure your explanations are concise and you’re delivering them with confidence.
2. Play offense, not defense. At the beginning of most job interviews, the interviewer asks the candidate to walk through her résumé, or says, “Tell me about yourself.” That’s a great opportunity to take the initiative in addressing some of your hard-to-answer questions in a positive way. As you tell the story of your résumé you can seamlessly include explanations of potentially difficult matters, preemptively cutting off inquiries like “Why did you leave your last job?” It’s often easier to raise such things yourself than to discuss them in response to direct questions. Good offense beats good defense every time.
3. Make sure you give consistent answers. If you have multiple interviews with the same potential employer, answer the tough questions the same way each time. Having different interviewers ask the exact same questions is something companies do to make sure their job candidates are being honest. You may feel pressured to be creative with your answers, but when the interviewers compare notes, that won’t look good.
Almost everyone looking for a job has questions they’d rather not deal with. The smart thing is to figure out how to answer them better than most other candidates to increase your chance of getting the job.
Jerome Young is the founder and president of www.AttractJobsNOW.com, a recruiting and job search consulting firm.