Fired? How to Discuss This in Your Interview

June 26th, 2015

During almost every interview session, for any position in any industry, one question will be more or less inevitable: “Tell me more about your last job.” Most employers will start with a few pleasantries and general questions about your goals and intentions, and then move immediately into a discussion of what you’ve done in the past. And since your last job provides a perfect launch point for this conversation, you’ll need to discuss your most recent position in a way that’s positive and meaningful. But what if your last job didn’t go very well at all? And what if you left under circumstances that are difficult to portray in a glowing light? Here are a few ways to deal with this question if you were fired or dismissed involuntarily.

Don’t Bring it Up

The most important rule is simple: don’t offer this information or initiate this conversation unless you’re asked. It may seem like a gesture of honesty to jump in front of this issue and voluntarily blurt out that you were fired from your last job, but this move is more likely to harm your chances than help you. Give yourself room to grow and change as a person. If given the chance to do so, leave the past where it belongs: behind you.

If Asked, Answer Briefly

If your interviewer wants to know the circumstances of your exit, keep your response honest, clear, positive, and above all, short. Practice an answer that can be delivered in ten words or fewer. Stay positive. According to HR experts, the most valuable word you can use under these circumstances will be the word “fit”, as in: “the job was not an ideal fit”, or “the company and I were not a fit.”

Take Responsibility, Within Limits

If your interviewer probes for more detail, you can briefly explain the philosophical or personality mismatches that pushed you out the door. But frame your departure in terms of a misalignment, not as a personal shortcoming on your part. Don’t make excuses, but at the same time, don’t take on a full burden of blame that isn’t yours to bear.

A Layoff is Not a Firing

Most responsible employers recognize that layoffs and job loss due to restructuring are not the fault of the employee, and that almost every employee experiences at least one or two involuntary job losses during his or her career. Performance-based or disciplinary firings are another matter, but wise managers and interviewers can easily understand the difference.

For more on how to move past this detail and keep the conversation focused on your skills and credentials, contact the staffing team at PSU.


Stop Waiting for the Perfect Candidate

June 19th, 2015

Are you searching high and low for the ideal candidate, a shining star who can meet — and even exceed — every single one of your position requirements? Are you sifting through and discarding dozens of resumes that just don’t quite measure up and sighing with disappointment after every interview? Here’s a tip: stop doing this. Keep these considerations in mind the next time you open a resume file or prepare to greet your next interviewee.

Opportunity costs are real costs

If you’re looking to hire a new CIO, or an operator for the central machine that keeps your product assembly line in motion, then of course you’ll be losing money with every hour this position stands empty. But if you’re dropping your level of concern and slowing your search for less “urgent” positions, think twice. Every position matters, and every empty chair takes a toll on your overall organization. Empty seats increase team workloads, diminish morale, generate an atmosphere of insecurity, and push people into responsibilities that lie outside of their areas of skill. Factor timelines and opportunity costs into every hiring task.

Don’t hold out for unicorns

Staffing an open position can be compared to buying a house. Some potential options have a great location, some have fabulous natural light, some require minimal maintenance, and some offer short commutes to work. But very few offer all of these qualities. If you can’t decide between five candidates who each offer different aspects of value, don’t let this paralyze you. Simply take each advantage and prioritize them. Which matters more: a pleasant attitude, a sense of determination, a willingness to accept a lower salary, or years of experience? Rank these qualities and move forward.

Perfection is not your friend

Yes, the candidate across the interview table is smart, capable, confident, and experienced. But are they smart and experienced enough? If you wait a little longer, will you encounter someone else who offers even more of these wonderful qualities? In a word: no. Especially if your search has already reached and surpassed your established timeline. If you decide to gamble and let this excellent candidate walk out the door, they’ll find a position with your competitors, and you’ll be standing back at square one.

Define “success”

What do you consider a “successful” hire? The answer will vary for every company and every manager, but in general, a successful hire will mean a candidate who accepts your offer, steps on board, thrives, contributes, and stays for at least one calendar year. If you know your candidate will meet each of these requirements, it’s time to stop hedging and roll the dice.

For more guidance on the candidate selection and sourcing process, contact the expert staffing team at PSU.


What Makes You Stand Out as a Candidate?

June 12th, 2015

You’re about to start editing and customizing your resume in pursuit of an opportunity that seems perfect in every way. Perfect for you, at least. The position lies well within commuting distance, the company seems stable, and job seems to align perfectly with your long term career goals. You also hold all (or most) of the requirements that these employers seem to be looking for. This position offers everything you want and need…but what about the other side of that transaction? How can you make it clear to these employers that, as far as this dream job is concerned, you’re also dream candidate? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work on setting yourself apart from the crowd.

The minimum isn’t always enough.

If the employers request a candidate with a specific level of education in a specific field, plus three, five, or ten years of experience, then having these things won’t help you across the finish line; you’ll just have an easier time getting into the race. Whatever the basic requirements may be for the position, almost every candidate in the pool will have them. So you’ll need to make it clear that you can check these boxes…but you can also offer a little bit more.

Overlapping credentials provide leverage.

Maybe these employers want a candidate with a degree in finance, but they also want a candidate with HTML experience. And it may not be a realistic expectation, but they also (as a bonus) would love to find a candidate who can speak the national language of the country where they’re about to open a new office. Most employers know that each of these individual skill sets are easy to find. But a candidate with two of the three will be far more rare. And a magical candidate with all three of these unrelated credentials will be like a beautiful, mythical unicorn. If you happen to be this unicorn (AND you happen to live within in commuting distance) now is your time to shine! Don’t miss this opportunity.

Downplay irrelevant skills.

If you have seven skills to include in your “skills” section, including software languages, public speaking skills, clinical certifications, athletic accomplishments, artistic accomplishments, and a few others, shine a light on the ones that will matter most to these specific employers. Do this by removing the others altogether. If you’re pretty sure one of your skills might be commonplace or irrelevant to this job, delete it so the others get more attention.

For more on how to make sure you’re grabbing and holding the attention of potential employers, reach out to the expert staffing team at Personnel Services Unlimited.



Preparing Your Team for the Addition of a Temporary Workforce

June 5th, 2015

You’ll be taking on a temporary team to help you survive your upcoming busy season (or a sudden influx of challenging orders), and at this point, everything in in place. Workstations are ready, the paperwork is under control, and your candidate selection process is well underway. But there’s one more step you haven’t yet addressed: warning and preparing your current teams for the influx that’s about to happen. If you haven’t yet spoken to your staff about the new temporary workers that will soon be joining their ranks, now is the time. Keep these considerations in mind.

Provide Lead Time

Give your teams plenty of advance notice, and in case they forget, provide reminders. Give them the exact dates and times when the new workers will be showing up and leaving. Make sure they understand why this will be happening, and give them a place to turn in case they have questions or suggestions.

Clearly Explain Responsibilities

What exactly will your current employees need to do when the newcomers arrive? Maybe you’d like Sally to train half of them for two weeks, and Steve to train the other half. Maybe you’d like a specific employee to greet each newcomer at the door and lead them to their workstation. Maybe you’d like a different employee to take responsibility for reach stage of the training and onboarding process. Whatever your expectations may be, make them clear, and gain confirmation and buy-in from the employees who will be taking a leadership role.

Build Some Excitement

As your current teams to prepare to make space for the newbies, generate some cheerful excitement about the process. Find out something interesting about each new person that you can share (a passion for skiing, a background in a fascinating field, an interest in art, etc, etc). Encourage your employees to reach out and be friendly with the new staff. If this means looking up some of their names online beforehand to learn more about them, that’s great.

Encourage Patience

While your new influx of staff will ultimately speed things up and remove some of the burden from your current employees, there may be some hitches along the way. Ask your full time staff to be patient with your temporary teams while they learn the ropes, and encourage them to lend a helping hand whenever possible. Thank them for the commitment and sacrifices they make to the company, and remind them that these sacrifices don’t go unnoticed.

For more on how to keep your permanent staff on track while you wrangle an incoming tide of temporary help, reach out to the staffing experts at Personnel Services Unlimited.


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