The red flag question

Interviews are not something you look forward to if you have problems in your background. When the interviewer raises the problem in a question, answering questions about the problem in a positive manner is the goal.

No Experience

Experience is normally a problem, raising the old question of how you gain experience when you don't have any. In answering this question, the problem becomes one of how to get experience outside of the workplace. Some simple and effective methods of getting experience are:

  • Volunteering - while not paid, it can provide valuable experience and references later on
  • Working a part-time entry level position - grab the first entry level position you find as this will give you at least some experience
  • Using side jobs - babysitting, lawn mowing, house or pet sitting are in this category
  • Civic experiences - Scouts, 4-H or such organizations

Poor Grades

Poor grades, either in college or high school, can lead to an assumption of lack of discipline or concentration issues. This problem raises questions about intelligence. Answering this issue is also rather simple.

  • Continuing Education - if you show a continuing willingness to learn new skills and complete training this will show an improved change
  • Finishing School - if you have not finished college, show plans or actual work where you are going to obtain a degree or certification
  • Resolving fundamental issues - if you have poor grades because of non-education issues, be ready to show how you overcame these issues and how you are willing to improve upon the situation

Criminal Record

Having a criminal record raises problems and requires answers that are well thought out. Usually when you see the question raised about criminal convictions answering can go in four directions:

  • Lie and say 'no'
  • Leave the question blank as if you missed it
  • Answer yes and write a brief answer as required
  • Answer yes and reply that you will answer this problem and question at the interview

Remarkably the last item is the most likely to help you put a positive spin on any problems from the past. Here is the reasoning which cause the first three to fail:

  • The first two will be found out since most employers do background checks today
  • The third answer will most likely cause the employer to either pass you over or pass judgment before meeting you even though it is illegal to do. It does happen.

The last option allows you to fully explain in brief summary and show how you have taken positive steps to improve your situation since then.

Job Hopping

When the problem of job hopping is raised, the employer will ask questions. Answering this problem's questions will require you to know your own goals and options for the future. Some ways to answer these questions or problems:

  • Multiple jobs in under five years - if these are temp jobs you will have a much easier time explaining this issue; if not, an explanation of how the positions where all short term and why (such as holiday or seasonal work)
  • Unrelated jobs - if the jobs appear unrelated, you need to show how certain skills or training ties each of your jobs together and why you wanted different experiences
  • Similar jobs but unrelated duties - in fields such as sales, hospitality or food service this is acceptable; otherwise you should be ready to explain constant turnaround

Being Fired

If you have been fired from more than one job, this will be a problem which needs answering positively because an employer will ask. This is another issue, if you attempt to hide it, will most likely be found for the following reasons:

  • Past employers will be called
  • Omissions will be seen as gaps in employment and you will need to cover that issue
  • Being fired for situations beyond your control can still be addressed in a positive way

Answering questions about problems in these five areas will be simple as long as you can honestly place a positive light to them. Raising positive conclusions to problem questions is easy as long as you have taken steps towards improvement at any time since the issue in question.