Often, your past can come back to haunt you, and this is especially true when you are looking for work. For instance, if you have been fired from a job, have a work gap or perhaps spent time in jail, these issues might come up during the interview process. Being prepared to handle the challenges is more than half the battle. Our resume writers have a few tips that might help you answer these tricky questions with finesse.
1. Answering Questions About Time Spent In Jail
Often, an employer will ask whether or not you have been convicted of a crime. If you have been convicted, it is always best to be able to explain the situation. Rather than fret, be able to discuss some positive consequences about the arrest. Perhaps you were able to spend time in prison advancing your education or perhaps it brought about other positive changes in your life.
Your resume writers will not disclose that information on your resume, so it will be your job to bring up the situation and explain it. It is always best to be upfront and honest. Simply state that you served time in a jail or correctional facility for a specific crime and then quickly move on and address what you learned from the experience. Potential employers are more likely to hire you if you are honest about the situation than if you don’t disclose the information. Keep in mind that most convictions are public records, so it doesn’t take a lot of digging for a potential employer to discover the truth.
While employers can ask about convictions, employers in several states cannot ask about arrests that failed to lead to a conviction, such as California. However, it is legal in most states to inquire about arrests as well as convictions. When it comes to convictions that have been expunged or juvenile records, you typically do not have to disclose the information although with expungement there are some exceptions to the rule.
2. Explaining Why You Were Fired
Honesty is always the best policy, so if you have been fired from a recent job, it’s best to be upfront. When asked about being fired, you should answer the question in the most positive manner possible. Being objective about your perspective and your boss’s perspective is a good strategy.
For instance, if there was a personality clash between you and your boss, address that issue and then state what you took away from the experience. If you were let go because you lacked a specific skill, you could describe some tangible ways that you are planning on improving this skill. Maybe you will take some classes, attend a seminar or read books about the issue. As resume writing experts, we know that it is crucial that you are as honest as possible whether it’s on a resume or during a job interview. After all, it just takes a quick phone call to discover how your former boss views the situation.
3. Explaining Significant Gaps In Work History
Resume writers often create resumes for people who have employment gaps, so we know that it is not at all uncommon for a person to have experienced a period of time when they weren’t employed. In some cases, such as a gap of just a month or two, your resume writing can showcase the years during which you were employed at a specific job rather than the month and year.
However, if you have a significant gap of six months or longer, it is best to be honest about the gap. Perhaps you stopped working in order to go back to school and further your education. Perhaps you took time off to care for children or an aging parent. Perhaps you even took a year off to travel or volunteer with a charity organization. Rather than look at the gap as a shortfall, simply focus on the benefits you received. Every experience teaches us something, so describe that in a tangible way during the interview.
4. Addressing Drug & Alcohol Issues
If you have spent time in rehab and are now in recovery, you might be wondering if this needs to be disclosed during a job interview. Technically, you are under no obligation to disclose this information, and employers are prohibited, by the Americans with Disabilities Act, from discriminating against people with addiction issues, provided that they are no longer using drugs or alcohol.
However, sometimes there are other issues that show up on your resume or in your past that make this disclosure unavoidable. For instance, if you were arrested or convicted for a drug or alcohol-related offense, this might need to be disclosed, even if you opted for drug treatment instead of jail time. Likewise, if you have a long employment gap at some point due to drug or alcohol use, you might need to be forthright and simply discuss your previous struggles while focusing on your strengths. Many people will admire your hard work in recovery rather than simply judging you because of the addiction.
If you are in recovery, especially if you are only a few weeks or months out of rehab, be sure that you are prepared for the challenges of the job hunt and new employment. Interviews and starting a new job can be very stressful, so make sure you have a good support system in place. It also helps to get a good night’s rest and eat healthy foods to keep your body as healthy as possible.
5. Impending Pregnancy
While there are few things in life more precious than impending parenthood, it does make the job hunt a tad more difficult. Technically, prospective employers cannot ask you if you are pregnant or ask if you intend to become pregnant. Likewise, it is also illegal to deny employment based on pregnancy. However, if there are many candidates for the job, the hiring manager could simply select another candidate, and it could be extremely challenging to prove you were passed over because of the pregnancy.
If you are very obviously pregnant, it’s best to address the issue and perhaps describe some of the ways in which you’ve prepared to balance your parenting obligations and work obligations. If you already have children, you can simply discuss how your plans have been successful in the past. It is important to note that family leave and medical leave benefits typically do not apply to employees who have been with the company for less than a year.
No matter what type of tough question you might face, practicing your answers will boost your confidence. Hiring a top resume writing firm and focusing on your resume writing and interview skills can make it easier to overcome these obstacles and present an impressive package to a potential employer.