At some point during your job interview, you’re likely to hear any of the following questions:

“Have you done this kind of work before?”
“Can you tell me about your experience in this industry?”
“I noticed you have a position listed in your resume that doesn’t exactly align with what we do here. Can you tell me what you did in this role?”
“I see that you previously worked as an Account Manager for XYZ Co. They’re a great company. Why did you leave?”

Though all of these may sound like very distinct questions with very different answers, they all represent the same thing: an opportunity. When you’re asked to say something — anything — about your previous positions and employers, take full advantage of the moment and keep these considerations in mind.

You HAVE done this kind of work before, whether it seems obvious or not.

No matter what you’ve done in the past, your experience has informed your ability to handle the job at hand. You may have to think hard in order to explain the parallels between your last job (or your last career) and this one. But that’s okay. Take a deep breath, take your time, and think carefully about what you’ve learned in the past that will help you excel in the future.

You’ve made mistakes…and that’s great news.

The mistakes you made in the past may have seemed terrible, humiliating, expensive, or even job-ending in the moments right after they occurred. But now that those mistakes are behind you, they’ve become an invaluable resource. Don’t hide them. Discuss them openly, and explain exactly what you learned from the experience. Your interviewers will probably ask you to do this, but even if they don’t, do it anyway.

Keep your discussions general, not specific.

No matter what experiences you went through in your last position, and how much you learned from these experiences, keep specific people and specific clients out of the conversation. Yes, your boss may have been tough to work with, and this may have taught you everything you know about navigating personal conflict. But this story is about you, not your past employer. There’s a fine line between talking about your personal growth and bad-mouthing your former supervisor. Stay focused. Don’t turn the spotlight on anyone else’s behavior or decisions, and don’t mention your past employer’s clients by name.

Keep sad stories short and positive.

If you’re asked why you left a previous position, keep your story short, positive, and under your own control. Don’t become defensive, and steer the conversation back toward your accomplishments and credentials as soon as you can.

For more on how to use your past experiences to win over your potential employer, reach out to the San Antonio staffing professionals at Expert.

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