In our latest installment of #CBJobChat (our monthly Twitter chat, which takes place on the first Monday of every month at 7 pm CST, for those who don’t know), we talked about one of the most dreaded parts of the job search: answering scary interview questions.
Scary interview questions are the ones that throw your brain for such a loop that you suddenly find yourself thinking about everything but the answer to the question (“I don’t have a good answer for why I want to leave my current job, but I did just remember that today is my grandmother’s birthday and that she is a Leo!”), or nothing at all.
Because we believe everyone, not just our Twitter chat participants, should know how to deliver impressive, relevant and blank-stare-free answers to tough interview questions, we’ve pulled together some of the best advice from Monday’s conversation.
Q1: How do you explain a layoff or being fired?
Be honest. Keep it short and professional. If the hiring manager wants to know more they will ask. — @KaraSingh
Seems like the stigma that was once there isn’t there for the most part. Just be honest about your situation. — @MatthewTForrest
Focus on the situation & not the individuals involved. It looks bad if you look like you are making excuses or blaming someone. — @SalarySchool
Q2: How should job seekers explain leaving their current job without badmouthing a boss and still sounding sincere?
I learned a lot but am ready for the next step … leadership role, new technology, responsibilities, etc. — @Amanda_Yates
There is no need to badmouth your old company. Be positive about them and focus forward. — @mtATL
New employers want to know you are choosing them, not just another job — @careerchatter
Also important to figure out what didn’t work so you are clear on what you are looking for in a new job. — @TappOnline
Q3: If you are “overqualified” for the position, how do you explain your willingness to take the job?
Stress the fact you are looking to add to the bottom line, been there done that attitude and looking for a home — @TheStewartGrp
Sell the extra value the company is getting from you, while showing that you are on their side, like @thestewartgrp stated. — @SalarySchool
If overqualified, focus on the skills you love & explain why the job is a great fit for where you want 2 be now – @TappOnline
Also understand the challenges of co. or dept. and show how being overqualified could save $$ and time w/ experience — @TappOnline
Q4: How do you explain a criminal record? Do you offer this information up front or wait for the employer to ask?
Wait to be asked. If you get to the interview it may not be a problem. Don’t get diarrhea of the mouth. — @St8Wkr
Generally- Do not volunteer negative information unless you can control it and know if will be asked — @careerchatter
Q5: Have you ever brought up benefits or salary first? Or do you always wait for the employer? Employers, is there a tactful way to ask about money early in the process?
I’ve seen candidates get to the offer stage and salary expectations are off 75+%. It’s okay to ask early in my honest opinion. — @mtATL
This is often an early question “What’s the salary range?” Not unheard of in the recruiting world. Comes up naturally. — @Redzonejobs
I have always felt that you wait for at least interview #2 to talk money and typically let the employer bring it up — @TheStewartGrp
For recaps of past months’ job chats, check out: