February 22, 2017

Counteroffers – Mistakes, Missteps and Why They Aren’t A Great Career Solution

by Scott Thompson

So we’ve all been there. You are in an interview and the hiring manager asks a question that has an embarrassing answer. You, being unprepared, answer awkwardly, making everyone feel uncomfortable. You don’t get the job. How do you stop this endless cycle of misery? It’s actually really easy: prepare for your interview and anticipate the hard questions.

Why were you fired? (actually fired – not laid off)

Alright, so you were fired – so what? Being fired from one job is not the end of the day. However, you have two options. You can lie about it happening (this isn’t a good idea – I’ve found that lies always come back to haunt you eventually) or  you can get it out of the way and deal with it.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Describe the situation in two to three sentences.
  2. Own it and show remorse. This is where people mess up. I don’t care how ridiculous your boss was – you have to show that you felt bad about the situation.
  3. Share what you learned from it and how it won’t happen again. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t really learn anything. You have to share that you actually did!

Is there anything on your background check that might cause a problem?

This is something that always trips people up. This isn’t about what they share, but instead about when they share it. I’m going to be really honest here. It shouldn’t be a surprise if you have an issue on your background or on your credit. You have two options:

a) you can be upfront about it (even as early on as the end of your first interview)
b) pray to the gods and hope it doesn’t come up at the end of the entire process

Here’s the deal. Lots of people make mistakes; most companies will deal with them. You just need to open and transparent about them.

Why didn’t you finish college?

This is a question that seems to get blown out of proportion from the applicant’s point of view. Sometimes, the company will ask about college and the interviewee will get super defensive or evasive in their response. Approximately 33% of the U.S. population has a college degree. This means 2 out of 3 people in the U.S. not have a degree. Just be honest and don’t get angry. Be open about what happened and most people will be pretty understanding.

Can you explain the gap on your resume?

This is, in my opinion, the easiest to deal with. Why? Because life happens. Family members get sick, daycare is too expensive, it is important for you to raise your kids, you wanted to travel to Australia for the summer… so on and so forth. It doesn’t matter, it’s your time. The answer is all about presentation. Don’t put parent or homemaker on your resume – it’s a slap in the face to everyone that does it and works. Just be honest and share that you took some time off to do whatever. It doesn’t matter, just be open about it.

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