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How long have you been looking for a job?

Sometimes interviewers ask negative questions designed to pull out an explanation for some negative quality they suspect. In this case, something on the resume may have tipped them off to a problem. Or, their own research may have found some negative in your background. It may be a long gap between the last job and the current job search.

Don’t waste time or effort trying to figure out what they know, what they’ve heard, or how to address some negative. Maybe there is a negative, maybe you know it, but maybe you’re wrong. If you explain some weakness, it may tip off the interviewer to that weakness. “I was in jail because my boss pressed charges after our fight, but he threw the first punch.” In his mind the interviewer thanks goodness you revealed that important piece of information.

Be honest, but remember to stick to positives and to a positive spin on events.

Laid Off:
“My last company had to downsize, and it was last in first out. I managed my money well, and had specific goals, so I’ve taken my time to find the right position. That’s why I’m here, this job looks like a fit.”

It’s best to avoid health issues, but if it’s something you think they’ll find out, or for which some special accommodations are needed, then it makes a good answer.

Sickness:
“My health was getting poor, and I didn’t want to continue working without being able to give 100%. I focused on solving that issue, and now it’s under control and I’m ready to return to the working world.”

People change jobs, in the current job market sometimes a lot. Companies don’t like employees that move quickly from job to job. For one thing, any time spent on training is wasted if the employee soon leaves. If you have made frequent changes, you can still spin it positively.

Changing Jobs A Lot:
“Unfortunately the last few positions didn’t work, but we always parted on good terms. I know what I want in a job, what I bring, and found some good prospects quickly.”

Confidence:
“It takes a lot of work to find the right job, so I took my time with this search. Depending on the timing of your process, I won’t be looking for much longer.”

One woman gave a completely honest answer. She looked at her watch then replied “About 20 minutes.”

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