Friday, June 08, 2007

Skeletons in the Closet

"You can go anywhere you want, as long as you
look serious and carry a clipboard"

Okay, so that quote has nothing to do with Skeletons in your closet, but it is so true!

So, now that I am settled in my new position and Dennis is out doing what Dennis does................. Oh yea, being the best at what he does, I figured it was time for me to jump in and try to do my part to fill some space here.

Now that you have finally gotten that interview for the position you really want, or at least think you want, you are sitting at home trying to figure out how you are going to address those past misfortunes in your work history.

Yes, the skeletons.

You know, the ones like getting fired from a position, large gaps in your employment, you haven't worked in 18 months.......etc.

Everyone has some skeleton in their past.

So, how do you address it with your potential new employer?

A lot of people I have interviewed have taken the "keep my mouth shut and maybe he won't notice" approach.

This is not an approach I recommend because eventually, I will probably find out.

Others have chosen to wait until they are asked about it before they address it.
The problem with that approach is that as soon as I ask you, you are going to be on the defensive. Not a good place to be in an interview.

The other problem is, I will probably ask somewhere towards the end of the interview which means it will be fresh on my memory.

Here is the most successful approach. Bring it up first and address it.
Tell the interviewer what happened and turn it in to a positive.

Have a good explanation for the situation and how you handled it.

For instance, lets say you took time off to take care of an ill family member or to pursue more education. Start the interview with a statement like "Before we get started I wanted to let you know the reason for the large gap in my employment"

If you address it early and you are positive about it instead of defensive, there is a better chance I will move on with the interview and not feel like it is an issue.

There are some skeletons that some employers can not overlook. For instance, if your skeleton is a felony conviction and company policy says I am not allowed to hire people with felony convictions, then the interview will not continue.

So, do you remain quiet about those? No, because if that is a requirement, they are going to do a background check and find out later anyway.

It is still better to be up front and not waist your time or theirs.

So, bring out the skeletons early and don't wait for someone to ask about them.

Oh yea, and remember, if all else fails, get a clipboard and look serious.

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