'Why Have You Been Out Of Work For So Long?'
How to handle another tough interview question
This question always has you scrambling for an answer, it touches a raw spot and can be humiliating, but you can turn it around by facing and using the facts of the matter.
The facts are that you are a hardworking, competent professional who had always been led to believe that was enough. You'd never had a problem finding work before and no one had ever told you there were specific job search skills you needed to develop, not at home, school or college or anywhere.
Then you got sideswiped by the biggest recession in eighty years and on top of this, the sudden move Internet-based recruitment (while you were working and not paying attention to such things) had changed all the rules of job search anyway.
You might try something along the lines of, "If you look at my work history you'll see it has been steady for __ years. Then I lost my job. The big problem for me was my complete lack of understanding about how to find a job in the worst recession in eighty years, at a time when recruitment had moved entirely online and changed all the rules of job search."
"I'd never had a problem finding a job before, but because of the changes in how you find a job today, when I did apply for jobs, most of the time my resume got stuck in a database and was never even seen by recruiters. I didn't understand that my resume had to be written differently. The big reason I've been out of work is that my resume didn't work in this new environment and I just haven't been getting interviews."
Then move the conversation forward to what's most important to the interviewer: what you can do and how long it will take you to be productive. You might finish with a question of your own, asking about the most difficult and/or urgent responsibilities of the job and why people fail in this job, "but put me to work and I'll get right back to doing what I do best: identifying, preventing and solving problems.
What are some of the recurring problems your people have to deal with in this job?" The interviewer's answer should give you ammunition to talk about how well suited you will be for the position.
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Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.
Within the profession he has a global reputation as the thought leader on job search and career management issues. He has lectured on four continents and has maintained a coaching practice since 1991.
The current recession is the 5th he has helped people navigate over the last 30 years.
For more information please visit http://www.knockemdead.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.