Dispelling Bad Job Interview Advice, Part 2

Dispelling Bad Job Interview Advice, Part 2Frustrated with interview advice that missed the mark, I started the week with a post that provided better guidance to job seekers. Here is the next installment in the series.

Question: Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?

Advice given: “Cover up the question with any productive activity that you have done during the time right like attending course to improve knowledge.”

Problem with that advice: My biggest concern with it is how it starts off telling job seekers that they need to “cover up” the employment gap. That seems to imply that being unemployed is something shameful, which isn’t necessarily the case — it happens for a variety of reasons. Feeling ashamed is also not a great mindset to have when getting ready for an interview.

What you should say: Definitely prepare your list of activities that you have been doing, keeping them as relevant as possible to the position and the company. Mentioning courses taken and seminars attended is a good strategy, but other options to consider would be:

  • Volunteer projects
  • Opportunities to mentor someone who is starting out in his/her career
  • Certifications earned
  • Research done in your specific field

For some, the reason for the unemployment could be related to personal circumstances, such as caring for a loved one or recovering from a medical condition. If this is your situation, keep your answer truthful (but not revealing too much information) and to the point. Confirm for the interviewer that the situation that led to the employment gap is in the past and that you are excited to be talking with him/her about the opportunity with X Company.


Question: Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

Advice given: “Try to convince the recruiter that you are apt for the job. Never express any sort of doubt regarding your educational credentials by speaking a bit uncertain.”

Problem with that advice: This sounds more like advice that should be given to someone who may appear UNDERqualified (at least on paper). If you have more experience and education than the job description asks for, you know you can do the job and have the education to back it up. Confidence in that regard shouldn’t be an issue for you.

What you should say: Say, for example, you had been a manager for five years, but found that it didn’t fulfill you in the same way that working on the front lines did. Your answer should be comprised of two parts:

  1. Be clear about the choices you are making in your career. Talk honestly about your move to management and, while you excelled in that position, it didn’t provide the same excitement as your time doing the hands-on aspects of your field.
  2. Give one or two brief examples demonstrating how your management experience will make you more effective in this role now. Even though you may not have been doing the work directly, you were able to see things that you maybe had not noticed when you were on the front line. Additionally, the education you may have earned to qualify for a management position may have given you further insight, which will allow you to add more value than when you had done it previously.


Question: Describe your management style.

Advice given: “Say that you make the listener understand the point by laying a lot of emphasis on the communication of any sorts with the subordinates and colleagues.”

Problem with that advice: You can’t “make the listener understand” your message. Yes, good communication is critical, but it’s not something that can happen by force. Plus, there is a lot more to communication than just what you are saying. There’s a lot more to management than just communication, too.

What you should say: This will vary widely based on the approach you take to management. Do you like to have tighter or looser control of your team and the work they are doing? How do you convey respect to everyone you see? What is your method for achieving process improvement? How do you recognize your team when they are successful? Know the answers to these questions, crafting an answer that will flow well and paint a clear picture of what you are like in a management role.

Be sure to answer this question honestly because it can help both you and the company determine if the opportunity is a good fit or not. They may be looking for a specific style that fits into their corporate culture. If your approach meshes well with them, that’s great! If not, you don’t want to try to contort yourself to fit their mold; in the long run, you would just be miserable.


There is more to come! Stay tuned for part 3 🙂

Image courtesy of Laughlin Elkind

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