Discussing Your Previous Jobs During Your Interview

April 17th, 2015

At some point during almost every professional job interview, your potential employer will move past the basic pleasantries and get down to business. This will probably involve asking you talk a little bit about yourself in an unprompted way…and eventually the conversation will turn to the subject of your past positions. When this happens, you’ll need to cover a few important aspects of your background, whether your interviewer specifically asks you about these area or not. Before the conversation ends, make sure you hit each of the points below.

Make it Clear That You Understand what the Current Position Will Entail

If you know what it will take to succeed in this role, make this clear. If you don’t, feel free to ask as many questions as you need to. The more the better, since every detail the employer provides can help you recognize how well this position aligns with your plans and your personality.

Make it Clear that You’ve Done Similar Work in the Past

Explain exactly how your past positions align with the requirements of the position at hand. Draw a clear line between what you’ve learned from the challenges of the past, and how these lessons have prepared you for the future. For extra impact, deliver this information in the form of a story. For example, explain your preparation for a demanding role in sales, healthcare, or customer service by describing the most significant customer service challenge or the most difficult sales call you’ve ever faced. How did the story end? Do you know what you might do differently if this situation arises again?

Mention what you Like Most about this Kind of Work

Discuss your passion for this work by describing the traits, feelings, and events that drew you to this field in the first place. Then talk about the reasons why you stay. What you do love about your customers, or your product? Who do you identify as stakeholders, or people who benefit from your work? How would you describe as a perfect day on the job?

Addressing Things That Went Wrong

At some point, your interviewer may ask you what happened that caused you to part ways with your last few employers. If you were so happy and fulfilled, why did you leave? This question is almost inevitable (most responsible employers need a few answers before they commit to a candidate), so prepare your response before the day of your meeting. Keep your answer honest and positive, and as soon as possible, move the conversation back to the subject of your qualifications and credentials.

For more on how to win over your interviewer and land the job you’re looking for, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

 

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