Imagine you’re being interviewed for a job you really want. You’re ready – you’ve done the research, you know the company and you’ve read up on the hiring manager…and then the thing you’re dreading happens….
Your interviewer asks about your lack of experience. Or why you’re leaving your job after only six months? Or why is there a six year gap on your resume?
Now’s the time I wanna crawl up under a sheet and pretend this day didn’t happen…or better yet, is there a corner? Where’s the corner? I’d like to hide for a minute! Cue the horror music!
Your Career Is in the Eye of the Beholder
You can ace your response to these dreaded questions. All you need is a new way of looking at your past experience or current circumstances.
You don’t need to hide your background (or hide from it), you need to learn how to talk about it.
This article teaches you to get comfortable with a positive version of your background, including the good, bad and ugly. We’ll cover how to field the most awkward interview questions so you can present the best, most authentic version of yourself during an interview.
The goal is not only to get out from where you currently work, but to go to a fantastic job that you will love. Even during a global pandemic, it is your right to find a job that fits you like a glove. I write more about how here. Open that in a new tab if you need to, and keep reading below so you can sail into your next interview with confidence and certainty.
How Not to Interview like an Awkward Robot
The problem is that most job seekers enter interviews with a disadvantage: a chip on the shoulder of their confidence.
You know someone’s going to ask, “you’ve only been here for 6 months, so why are you leaving already?” Most candidates are not prepared to answer that question with a confident spin. And that’s the key: answering tough interview questions with confidence is about coming to a new understanding of your past experiences, with a new, positive light shining on them.
Most job seekers are not good at this, and I see it all the time when I do mock interviews. I ask the client why they’re leaving their job so soon, and they turn into a weird robot. They recite their pre-programmed answer, as if they’re reading Shakespeare for the first time. Clearly something is wrong and they don’t feel good about it! This lack of confidence creates doubt in the mind of hiring managers.
The straw that broke the camel’s back in your job might be “because my boss sexually harassed me.” Or “the culture is horrifying and I cry every Sunday.” Or “the job I got hired for is not what I’m doing at all and I’m furious.”
Let me be clear: these are terrific reasons to leave. But if you try to avoid the awful truth and come up with a fake, “more acceptable” answer, you might start crying. Or fidgeting or rambling or being stiff. That’s why it’s critical to dig deep and find the parts of your story that are ALSO TRUE but less painful to share.
Ugly work circumstances can distract people from the broader context of what’s going on in their job. Yes, there’s the awful part, but there’s also all the other truth of your circumstances. You can talk about ALL THE OTHER STRAWS, the ones that don’t hurt and make a lot of sense.
Harassment and bad culture and poor job fit make it really difficult for people to look for a new job. These situations chip away at your confidence so you feel trapped, afraid to interview for a new position because you don’t know how to answer awkward questions without looking bad. This lack of confidence is not your fault, just like the harassment or bad culture or job fit are not your fault.
It’s like dating again after getting out of a difficult relationship: it’s awkward at first. You have to remember how to get to know someone and how to talk about uncomfortable parts of your past. You have to put situations that hurt you or mistakes you made in the best, most authentic light — because that’s who you’re becoming. You’re always becoming your best self.
For job interviews, what you need to do is practice showing up in a way that reflects how great you are and makes the situation you’re leaving irrelevant.
4 Scripts to Answer the Toughest Interview Questions
It comes down to preparation. With practice and these key scripts in your back pocket, you’ll be ready to present your past experience or current job circumstances with confidence. You’ll make it clear to the hiring manager what an asset you are. Who cares why you’re leaving your current job if you’re an AMAZING fit for this new role?
Click the button below to download 4 scripts to Ace the Toughest Interview Questions. You’ll get answers to ever job seeker’s most dreaded questions, and you’ll be able to answer them with ease:
- Career gaps: “What were you doing between 2010 and 2013?”
- Short tenure: “Why were you only at that company for a year?”
- No experience: “Why should we believe you can do this when you haven’t done it before?”
- Salary requirements: “What are you currently making?”
Go Forth and Get That Job
I promise that when you’re prepared, you can answer tough interview questions with confidence and authenticity. It’s time to stop letting your past experiences or current job circumstances hold back your career and erode your confidence.
Leaving your current situation is an important goal, yes. But more than that, I want you to have a job that truly fulfills you. A position with the right company culture and responsibilities and growth opportunities for you to shine in brilliant technicolor. You CAN have that… but you have to interview for it first.
Many clients come to me because they are unhappy in their job, and are scared that a new job search will lead them to another job, or culture, where they don’t fit. Your approach to interviews can make or break your future success, and help you understand fit BEFORE you accept the job. The key to using interviews to YOUR advantage is knowing the equation. Rocking Your Interview is a 3 part equation that includes:
- Assessing job fit
- Presenting your best, authentic self even when the questions are hard (this article)
In this 3-part series, I address each of these areas to help you prepare for your next interviews and land a work-life you love.