One of the most challenging aspects of a job interview is the inevitable questioning about your previous jobs. From interviewers who ask how much you made at a previous job to the ones who want to gossip about your former employers, there are so many landmines associated with questions about your former jobs that it can be difficult to know just what’s wise to say. Come up with a few lines before the interview, and you’ll never be caught off guard when those inevitable questions about former jobs come up.
Why Interviewers Ask About Your Former Jobs
When interviewers ask about your former jobs, they’re looking for two key bits of information: The skills you honed in your previous jobs, and just how much you’re willing to divulge about former employers. The perfect answer tells them plenty about the former and little about the latter that they couldn’t discover for themselves.
Stick to the Facts
A common question that crops up in job interviews is “tell me about an average day at your previous job.” By asking this question, interviewers hope to learn about your responsibilities and duties at former jobs, and also about your attitude toward your job and how you approach common workplace challenges. Prepare for this question, or any of its variations, by jotting down a list of the duties associated with your former jobs, common situations or problems you faced, and how you handled the more stressful parts of your job.
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…
Answering questions about your former job gets a little more tricky when interviewers — innocently or otherwise — start asking about your former employer. Never give into temptation to bad-mouth your former supervisors or employers, or divulge confidential information. You don’t know whether your interviewer knows some of your former co-workers well enough to pass on what you’ve told them. Above that, any interviewer worth working for will not take kindly to hearing your previous co-workers bashed. Steer all conversation back to your responsibilities and duties, and never tell interviewers anything about your former employers they couldn’t find out by googling.
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