The next time you go into an interview, remember this headline. Many candidates don’t.

If I open the interview with “I don’t want to go back into your dim distant past, but you joined XYZ 10 years ago-tell me why you left them” I do not want you to say “it’s probably best that I put it in context and explain why I joined the motor trade 20 years ago….”

If I asked “What turnover did your parts operation have last year?” I do not want somebody to say “Before I tell you that, let me explain why the market was so bad, why six people left and why the manufacturer tucked us up….”

If I ask you question, please answer it. I don’t need to know justifications, I don’t need to know context. It is my job as an interviewer to request context, it is not your job as an interviewee to provide it and asked for.

If you are going to provide context, and I do accept that some of you just cannot help it, then do it quickly. Time in an interview is important, and it is important that interviewers get the opportunity to ask the questions they want to ask, if they don’t they won’t want to ask you back even if you are the best person for the job.

If you really want to put it in context “I joined XYZ after being made redundant from ABC, and in reality I made a bad choice. I left them because I could not see the future and joined RST, who had a much greater career opportunities.” Or the parts manager could say “We turned over £2.6 million last year, that was 10% down on the previous year, would you like me to explain why?”

In other words as an interviewer I don’t want to sit in front of a politician. If I ask you a question then answer it. If I see you was evasive, refusing to get to the point, I probably won’t want to repeat the experience.

Nor will I want my boss to do so if I’m screening candidates on their behalf.

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