Workwrite Resumes

Job Stoppers: Handling a career mistake in a job interview

Do you have a career mistake in your past? Don't let it stop you from reaching your goal.

Do you have a career mistake in your past? Don’t let it stop you from reaching your goal.

We were a couple of appointments into creating a resume for a client who had been let go from his route sales job when he said, “I got a DUI.”

Ah, I thought. That’s the rest of the story.

I had known he’d been let go, but it had taken him a bit to tell me the circumstances. It didn’t change our resume strategy, but it certainly changed the way he needed to approach his interviews.

If you have a career mistake in your history, the first thing to decide is whether you will bring it up in an interview. I say yes, unless you have a really good reason to wait for the employer to ask the question. If, for example, your issue isn’t widely known, and you don’t believe the new employer will ask, then you might take the gamble.

If you decide to bring up the subject, consider how you are feeling about the issue. The more neutral your feelings about the situation, the better you will interview. If you are still extremely hurt or angry, your feelings are likely to color the conversation. Read through this list of ways to take care of your emotions and use a few of them before interviewing.

No excuses

When talking about the issue, the first thing you want to do is defend yourself. It’s human nature. It’s also the worst thing to do. Any sort of excuse is simply unacceptable.

The best thing you can do is to take responsibility. Admitting your part in the problem is going to get you the most respect and get you off the topic in the biggest hurry. Then, say what you learned from the experience. This is the most important part of your speech. It is also where you recover your respect. Admitting you made a mistake is humbling. Saying what you learned from it is where you get to pick up the pieces and show how you’ve put them together again.

The best possible outcome of this answer is to let your new boss know why the same thing would never happen again because you’ve learned how to handle this circumstance successfully.

If you have a “job-stopping” career issue and have found it difficult to move on, contact me today to talk about how to get your career back on the road to success.



Image courtesy bplanet at freedigitalphotos.net

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