There are plenty of great reasons to hire you. You’re highly qualified, you know what you’re doing and any smart hiring manager will recognize your stand-out traits and immediately see you for the asset you are. You’ve studied hard and worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve the offer you’re looking for.

But if you’re like most of us, there are probably one or two reasons a hiring manager might hesitate, or at least ask a few probing questions, before shaking your hand and giving you a start date. So, what should you do about these issues? How can you be ready when these sensitive and potentially damaging subjects come up in an interview? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Know what they are.

You may be bothered by an issue from your past. Try to get out of your own shoes and see things through the eyes of your interviewer. If you lost a job in the past, you may know the circumstances weren’t your fault. But the interviewer doesn’t know this and may want to hear more. The same applies to a low grade point average, a multiyear gap in your resume, a run-in with the law or a period of incarceration, or a dishonorable discharge. If you have any of these in your record, expect to be asked about them and have your answer ready.

Know your rights and protect your boundaries.

There are some things your employers are NOT allowed to ask, but they might anyway. If this happens, consider it a red flag and recognize you don’t have to answer. These include questions about a medical issue or disability, questions about your children and marital status, and questions about your nationality, sexual orientation or religion. These are off the table, and if they come up, change the subject (or end the interview).

Own your mistakes.

If you lost a major account and were dismissed from your job a few months later, you don’t have to connect these dots for your interviewer, and you don’t have to share anything that might incriminate you. All the same, it’s a good idea to show you can own your mistakes and learn from them. Instead of avoiding the subject, explain how the experience helped you grow as an employee and as a person.

Own (and love) your personality.

Personality and character are major concerns for most hiring managers, but these traits are very subjective, so if you allow any concerns to creep into the conversation, don’t expect to be given the benefit of the doubt. In other words, don’t incriminate yourself. Talk about your strengths, not your weaknesses.

For more on how to focus on the positive and push aside the negative during your interview, talk to the Milwaukee career management experts at Extension.


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