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Interviewing

Have you ever been fired from a job?

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Elimination is often the practice when it comes to high volume responses to singular job postings. Recruiters may sort first by current work status, location and prior industry or workplace relevance. Yet gaps in a resume will always raise a flag – though not necessarily a red one.  RedFlag

Interruptions in work history are quite the norm, but the red flag may wave when it is repeated or long term. So you must be prepared.

While I may be reiterating some thoughts on the article linked below, I do maintain that honesty is the best policy. Yet one should be prepared to answer that question with a brief response, not overly hesitant and be able to promptly state what was learned from the experience.

As we all know, a strong and experienced interviewer will be asking open-ended questions, vs. those that allow for only a yes or no answer. But let’s start with one here, mock style:

INT: Have you ever been fired?

YOU: No, never; or No, but I’ve been laid off. Or, YES I have.

INT: Can you tell me about a time when you were fired from a job?

YOU: Actually, the only time I’ve lost a job was due to workforce reductions.

ORYes, I was let go once for ____________. While I knew the requirements (i.e. sales quota) for this job, I was having quite a bit of difficulty selling this technology/system with the volume  and time frame expected of me.

INT: So what did you learn from that experience?

YOU: It may not have been a good fit for me at the time. I was quite challenged and was too embarrassed to ask for help. I really needed to have a stronger understanding of the technology behind the product to be able to anticipate customer needs. What I’ve learned that is that I needed to self-study more beyond the training provided.

The quickest response is typically the most honest. Body language and tone may communicate more then your one word response. Even a defensive ‘NO’ can raise a flag.

So let’s say for a moment that yes, you’ve been fired. It is unlikely that an agency recruiter you are interviewing with have ever terminated someone before. But when interviewing with someone in a management or decision making role, it is quite possible they’ve had to fire someone in the past, for cause. They’ve been down this road and they should know the ropes.

Legitimate reasons for being terminated are usually not a surprise to the employee. If a company is following their rules, write-ups and disciplinary actions are in play before a final decision is made. Affected employees are long-aware that their days may be numbered; quite possibly due to performance issues, attendance problems and workplace rule violations. An immediate termination may occur with out advance notification when their has been a data breach, a breach in confidentiality or in some other litigious matter.

How you address which reason is important. Staying positive right now is essential and being prepared with a concise (rehearsed but fluid) explanation – with a closing that explains what you’ve learned from it. Remember, your resume has been selected as a possible fit and you are being interviewed for a job. You’ve gotten this far.

Don’t place blame on others. Instead – take responsibility for your own actions/behaviors and share what you’ve learned from the experience while being respectful of the company’s decision and processes.

Be forthcoming without providing too much detail. You don’t want this part of the interview process to be the longest part. You want to move forward. Be thoughtful but firm in your response to this line of questioning.

If you have personal experience and not sure how to answer this question in your next interview, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help.

Referenced article: From the Business Insider

Wondering Why You Still Haven’t Found Full-time Work?

My first question might be – have you even considered a part-time job? I know unemployment benefits, if you are fortunate to still be getting them – eventually run out. They are to serve as a cushion of support, and I’ve had to rely on them myself at least once in my career. So, when they run out or even before – are you only prospecting full-time work? Did you ever think that part-time work can lead to that, if you truly apply yourself? And if for nothing else, for the hands-on experience you can gain and refresh your resume with: from new computer software to a new industry environment. It can all be good.

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When I ask someone about how recent interviews have gone – and they reply they’ve had none, that is telling me one of two things. They’re not really trying and haven’t even put a decent resume together. Or, their resume is not gaining the attention or being sent accordingly to select jobs/companies.

Truth be told, and for the sake of this post – let’s consider you’ve had plenty of interviews with multiple organizations but still not had a reasonable offer.

Some reasons that are out of your control.

  • They hired someone or promoted from within.
  • Budget issues caused cancellation or revision of the job. (I’ve personally seen this on several occasions over the years.)
  • Organizational issues ended the need to fill the position.
  • The chemistry didn’t work.
Other reasons that you can have more control or influence over:
  • Someone else was a better networker.
  • The chemistry didn’t work.
  • You were obviously unprepared for the interview.
  • You didn’t project that you were truly interested in the job.
  • Your references didn’t support you.
  • You expected to fail!

Questions YOU should be asking!

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Forget for a moment the questions you will be asked during the interview process. What could make or break that impression you are trying to uphold during the process could fall upon deaf ears – unless the interviewer is hearing something substantial from you.

Here are some suggestions to pose to the following – as you are in the interviewing phase:

To a Headhunter or 3rd party recruiter (such as myself):

  • How did you find me?
  • Are you working directly with your client’s hiring manager or HR staff?
  • How long have you been working with this client/company?
  • What success have you had in matching their needs with those you’ve recommended?
  • Do you have a written job description to share with me?
  • Have you or will you present my Resume as it is, or are you going to modify it?

To the Human Resources department (again, such as myself on occasion):

  • How do you describe the culture here and/or work environment?
  • Is there a structured career path or employee development program at this company?
  • What do you consider the company’s strengths at this time, and weaknesses? (this could be in the marketplace, or struggling to keep staff, or growth)
To the Hiring Manager:
  • What specific skills do you desire from your next hire that would make your job easier?
  • How often are performances reviews conducted and are they typically on schedule?
  • What types of challenges would I first encounter if hired into this role? (this could be backlog of work, unwelcoming culture in department, lack of resources)
  • When there is a conflict between team members, what do you do?
  • What would you say your department is most noted for within the company?
  • What are some of the accomplishments your department has most recently achieved?
So it goes without saying, that turning the tables on the hot seat could be an interesting experience for the interview. Nonetheless, it will show that you also, are considered about the fit within the company, the growth or learning potential, and so much more. You want to make an educated decision, just as they are.

What would Amazon do?

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Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, selling everything from books to shampoo, and lots of people want to work there. At the world’s largest online retailer, it’ll take more than just cookie-cutter answers to stand out. 

The full article and list of 29 questions is from Inc.com and linked here for your review.

Of Amazon’s 29 questions – I would like to point out a few of those that I believe would apply to any organization and most positions.

How would you answer the questions below? What do you think the employer is trying to gauge with this line of questioning?

  1. What is the worst mistake you ever made?
  2. If your direct manager was instructing you to do something you disagreed with, how would you handle it?
  3.  Describe what Human Resources means to you.
  4.  Do you know our CEO? How do you pronounce his/her name?
  5.  Are you willing to work on your feet for 10 hours, 4 days a week?
  6.  Do you think you’ll reach a point where you storm out of work and never return? Or have you?
  7.  Would you tell on a employee for stealing?
  8. Tell the story of the last time you had to apologize to someone.
  9. What would you do if you saw someone being unsafe at work
  10.  What is the most difficult situation you have ever faced in your life? How did you handle it?
  11. Give me an example of a time when you were 75% of the way through a project, and you had to pivot strategy–how were you able to make that into a success story?
  12.  What would you do if you found out that your closest friend at work was stealing?
What the employer is trying to gauge is the character of a candidate with many of these questions. As well, what research has been done to learn about the company prior to the interview. And, about one’s work ethic, determination and accountability. And your integrity.
The reason I am sharing these questions is that they are not uncommon. Be prepared to have to respond to some of these in your job search endeavors. Be prepared to think on your feet, be honest, and consider how to concisely respond to questions that may elicit a long answer. Too long of an answer could find one’s foot in mouth, so to speak.
Practice responses out loud – to yourself or rehearsing with a friend. Maybe a buddy system of mock-interviewing, so that you can be best prepared.

After the fact…Hiring managers take note

Last night’s meeting at Rasmussen and discussion brought attention and focus to perceived age discrimination. Simply put – a bad, inexperienced, inappropriate, unprofessional interview – often could be just that. Regardless of feeling one’s age or being made to feel insignificant – one has to realize that an organization who puts people in charge of hiring that behave in that manner, is not likely a company you want to be a part of. Take it as your own red flag to stay far away. When things are so considerably insensitive or improper – be sure that is the message you share with others about your interview experiences.

Companies need to assure that those who are candidate-facing are representing their organizations in a legal, appropriate and professional manner  – whether or not the person being interviewed will be hired. Bad news travels fast and those offended by these incidents should move forward and beyond this experience. Don’t let it define how you approach future interviews or the anticipation that others will be result in the same offensive tone.

Other roundtable discussions including trying to find a job when technology experience is outdated, and finding a completely new career path after early retirement.

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