If you have got an interview, make sure you’re ready for the questions

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Interview candidates regularly play a game called ‘duck the obvious’, pretending that questions are far too random to plan for. In reality, about 80 per cent of questions can be predicted.

In a tight market, employers only call in people they are confident can do the job, so an interview means you’re pretty close to an offer. Prepare yourself for questions dealing with any lingering doubts in the recruiter’s mind. What are these questions? The ones you hope will never be asked.

Perhaps you dropped out of a course, changed jobs rather too frequently or spent a long time temping. Perhaps your last job has little obvious connection to the roles you’re currently chasing. You might be explaining a gap year (watch out for a forthcoming piece on how to handle career breaks). Or maybe you don’t want to be pushed and probed on that big inescapable issue: ‘Why are you on the job market at the moment?’

Nearly every candidate I work with shows discomfort when asked to talk about redundancy or being unemployed. In the past, employers used to worry about candidates who had been ‘let go’ or people who had been out of the market for months rather than weeks. Today, both of these are regular occurrences.

As with any CV dilemma, the problem becomes bigger if you react badly. That’s why you need short, uncomplicated rescue statements – pre- prepared answers that ensure you move forward.

The tricky topics need two lines of defence. If you are asked why you were made redundant, don’t be defensive or cast your employer in a bad light – this introduces the suggestion that you might have been a problem employee. Nail the problem quickly: ‘The organisation restructured and several posts were made redundant, which prompted me to think about the kind of work I’d really like to do.’

The same kind of single-breath summary can usually get you into safer territory. So if you dropped out of your degree or changed jobs more than the norm, offer a snappy, positive reason such as: ‘I decided to get some real-world experience.’

A short rescue statement allows the interviewer to tick a box and move on but have a second line of defence for the seasoned interviewer who wants to know more. Secondary defences will still be brief but will do one thing very clearly. They will show that you make decisions about your own career, that you actively seek out interesting work and learning experiences, and look for new challenges.

Here’s a great idea , Remember the ‘warmer’ and ‘colder’ game children play, giving clues about how close you are to hidden objects? Give short answers to questions on negative topics and longer answers to positive enquiries. Make sure you take the interview to a ‘hot’ place every time you can.

John Lees (@JohnLeesCareers) is author of The Interview Expert (Pearson). For free career tips and details of John’s workshops, visit www.johnleescareers.com

Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/lifestyle/892896-john-lees-how-to-prepare-for-the-unexpected-in-interviews#ixzz1pvgNCMkC