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By Caryl and Ron Krannich, Ph.Ds
You must do well in the job interview to get a job offer. But what should you say and do if you have red flags in your background you're a job hopper, lack focus, been incarcerated, experienced drug and alcohol problems, got fired, dropped out of school, received poor grades, lack experience, or appear over-qualified?
Can you convince the prospective employer that you should be hired despite your red flags? Since employers want to make smart hiring decisions, they look for reasons not to hire you. Above all, they want to know the truth about you.
So how do you plan to tell the truth about your background and when? Here's the book that finally sheds light on this critical issue for millions of individuals who have difficult but promising backgrounds.
Examining the whole interview process, from preparation to close, it gives special attention to nine important red flags employers often interpret as job knock-outs:
- No experience
- Poor grades
- No diploma or degree
- Been fired
- Job hopper
- No focus on the jobs held
- Poor references
- Criminal record
Stressing the importance of preparation, the authors show how to best handle each of these potential red flags by offering useful strategies along with sample red flag questions and answers. Covering both the verbal and nonverbal dimensions of the job interview, the book also examines:
- 35 common interview errors
- 101 typical interview questions
- Unexpected and wacky questions
- Behavior- and situation-based questions
- Questions interviewees should ask
- Closing the interview and follow-up
- 12 alternative career services
- Dozens of recommended books and websites
Whatever you do, make sure you speak the language of employers who are looking for truthfulness, character, and value in candidates. With the help of this unique book, you can quickly learn to turn your red flags into green lights for renewed job and career success!
160 pages. 6 x 9. 2004. $14.95. SPECIALS:
10 copies for $139.00; 100 copies for $1,295.00. Please see the Product Options box above when ordering.
THE AUTHORS: Ron and Caryl Krannich
are two of America's leading authors writing about career and workplace issues.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Employers Want in Today's Job Market
- People With Not-So-Hot Backgrounds
- Clues Employers Look for to Determine Successful "Fit"
- Turn Red Flags Into Green Lights
- Prepare to Meet the Employer's Needs: The Verbal Exchange
- Nonverbal Behaviors That Meet Needs and Exceed Expectations
- At the Interview: Wow the Interviewer
- Avoid 35 Common Interview Errors
- Challenging Questions and Sample Answers
- Close and Follow Up the Interview
- When You Need Help Along the Way
CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING EXCERPTS FROM THIS BOOK BY CLICKING ON ANY OF THESE TITLES!
PRAISE FROM REVIEWERS AND READERS
"[The Krannichs'] unique new work takes on a number of off-putting background factors: no experience, poor grades, no diploma or degree, been fired, drug abuse, job hopping, no focus on jobs held, and over qualification....Employers understand truthfulness, character and value in candidates. [This] book helps you understand the nitty gritty of how to show that you have those characteristics."
--Joyce Lain Kennedy, Tribune Media Services
"This book is a great value that belongs in every resource room and on the shelf of every career counselor or case manager who serves people with barriers to employability."
Some aspects of your background may create doubts in the mind of a prospective employer and lead him/her to eliminate you from consideration for a job. Test yourself to determine how "not-so-hot" your background may be. Read the following statements and circle the number to the right that best represents your degree of agreement or disagreement with that particular statement.
1 = Strongly agree 4 = Disagree
2 = Agree 5 = Strongly disagree
3 = Uncertain
- I have no work experience at all.
1 2 3 4 5
- I have work experience, but it is doing very different work from what I want to do.
1 2 3 4 5
- My grades in school were not very good.
1 2 3 4 5
- I have no high school diploma or GED.
1 2 3 4 5
- I have been fired from one job.
1 2 3 4 5
- I have been fired from more than one job.
1 2 3 4 5
- I have held several jobs in the last year.
1 2 3 4 5
- The jobs I have held have each been very different from each other in terms of the work to be done and skills required.
1 2 3 4 5
- I don't have a past employer who would give me a good reference.
1 2 3 4 5
- I have been convicted of a felony.
1 2 3 4 5
If you circled a "1" or "2" for any of these statements, you may raise a red flag in the eyes of most employers. If your total score is between 10 and 35, you will most likely appear to have a not-so-hot background in the eyes of most employers. You'll need to develop interview strategies to overcome your job market weaknesses.
Interviewing, selecting, and hiring a new employee is risky business. Employers know that some job applicants will stretch the truth and some will even blatantly lie about their past to cover up problems that might knock them out of consideration for the job.
So, most interviewers find it easier to look for reasons not
to hire a job seeker than to focus on identifying reasons why that person should be hired. Employers assume a persons past behaviors are the best predictors they have of how the applicant might perform on the job at their company.
Let's examine several of the most common knock-out objections employers hold. If you have any of these red flags in your background, be prepared to respond to employers questions about them during a job interview.
You Have No Experience
Experience is not necessary for many entry-level jobs or jobs requiring few specialized skills, such as stocking shelves in a store or bagging groceries at the check-out counter. But for many jobs employers do prefer or even require experience, or an applicant will not even be considered for the job.
Employers see experience as an indicator the applicant has the ability to do the work and will not need as much training as someone with no similar experience.
You Received Poor Grades
Employers like job candidates who have a reasonably good academic background and a record of success. Good grades are not only an indicator of your level of intelligence and your capability to learn, but also are thought to be an indicator of your drive to succeed your motivation to stick to a task, complete it, and do it reasonably well.
Really poor grades (mostly Ds or Fs) are bright red flags!
You Don't Have a Diploma or Degree
Having no diploma at an age when most people have been graduated from high school, or failing to pursue a GED is another red flag.
If you attended college or a special school and never completed the degree or certification work, be prepared to explain to the prospective employer your reasons for not finishing.
You Have Been Fired
If you have been fired from a past job, a potential employer will have real concerns about what kind of problem(s) you will bring to his/her company. He will wonder why you were fired, and will be afraid your former employers problems will become his if he hires you.
You Have Been a Job Hopper
Except in a few high-turnover employment fields, such as restaurants, hospitality, and construction, if you have had several jobs in the last year or two, the interviewer will wonder why.
Frequent job changes raise questions about your real reasons for leaving. The employer may assume you will continue this pattern of behavior and leave this new job after a short period of time.
Your Past Jobs Were Unrelated to Each Other
You may have stayed at each of your previous jobs for a significant period of time, but you did a lot of things in different workplaces, making it appear as though you take almost any job offered to you. This lack of focus or continuity of a field of work will raise a red flag with many employers.
You Have Poor References
Recommendations that carry the most weight with employers are those that come from your past employers. Many former employers, though, are reluctant to go into detail about your behavior at their companies. Thus, they may only verify employment dates.
If you have no reference or if there are no employers you can count on receiving a good recommendation from, this will raise red flags with prospective employers during an interview.
You Have a Criminal Record
Having been convicted of a felony, which is a question frequently found on employment applications, will definitely raise red flags. Again, the problem is the assumed pattern of behavior.
To get around this, youll need to acknowledge responsibility for your previous acts and present a convincing case that you have significantly changed your behavior since your conviction.
You Are Over-Qualified
Even though this is a problem many job applicants think they would be happy to have, being or appearing over-qualified for a position will raise a red flag with most employers.
They will wonder what motivates you to take this job and whether you will stay on the job for long. They will wonder why you would be willing to take a position lower than your skills/experience qualify you for, and perhaps speculate on what deep, dark secrets about your past work life you are keeping from them.
When an employer spots one or more red flags in your background during an interview, you need to be able to give an explanation for the red flag behavior and convince him/her that you have changed your behavior. How can you most effectively lower those red flags so that you won't be screened out by the employer?
You want to convey to the employer:
- what changed in your situation.
- what you have done to overcome the negative behavior.
- what you learned from the experience.
To do this, you can:
- frankly and truthfully explain the situation.
- acknowledge the former employer's need for a dependable employee.
- say that you respect the former employer's decision regarding your employment.
- take responsibility for your behavior.
- be concise, straightforward, and factual about it, and not ramble on and on.
Before the interview, as you plan how you will handle red flag questions, do not try to memorize your responses. If you do memorize, chances are you will forget your lines or your answers will sound "canned" - or both. Neither will be convincing to the employer.
- Tell the truth in the most positive manner possible, but do not confess more than is necessary.
- Avoid blurting out all your weaknesses or negatives, limiting your answer to the work situation, and do not bring your home life into the discussion.
- Keep your comments concise, focused, and to the point.
- Avoid talking too much, rambling on and on out of nervousness. A little silence is all right.
- Try to avoid discussing a red flag behavior at the beginning or the end of the interview, which are most likely to be remembered with greater clarity by the prospective employer. Try to end on the most positive note possible.
As you explain what you did to change the situation, you will reveal some important elements in your character that are desired by employers: honesty, integrity, forthrightness, responsibility, change, and self-transformation.
Prior to a job interview, you may be worried about how to handle questions about things in your background that probably will not be plus factors in an employer's hiring decision.
If you did not complete high school, are likely to receive negative comments about your work or work habits from a former employer, have a record of job hopping, have been fired from a job, have a criminal record or a record that includes alcohol or drug abuse, you must be prepared to address questions or even raise the issue yourself to put the red flag to rest and have a chance at being hired.
Here are some general guidelines for dealing with questions about red flag behaviors:
- Give the information asked for - no more. This is not the time to confess all your past negative behaviors or talk excessively.
- Maintain good eye contact with the interviewer throughout. Remember, you do not want to seem dishonest by avoiding looking at the interview in the eye.
- Talk briefly about what you have learned from the mistake you made in the past. Acknowledge and take responsibility for your actions.
- Talk about what you have done to change this aspect of your life. What have you done to modify the red flag situation and behavior, as well as what positive behavior(s) have you put in place?
- Make your comments positive and concise. Do not ramble on and on.
- If you are the one bringing up the subject of a red flag behavior, avoid introducing the subject early in the interview. You want to have a chance to impress the interviewer with your positive attributes and make a favorable first impression. Also, avoid introducing the subject of a red flag behavior at the very end of the interview unless you have overcome the problem in a truly significant way. You want the final thing the interviewer remembers about you to be positive.