Tips for an interview: the underlying or hard questions

If you have problems or issues in your background or personal life, expect them to be raised during the interview. Expecting the hard, job related, question will help in dealing with questions without being surprised by them. So how do you do this? Expecting the underlying question is the hard part. This requires knowing about two methods of asking a question.

  • Knowing how to read between the lines
  • Knowing when there is an underlying question being asked through another question.

Childcare Issues

Although employers are bound by law not to ask certain questions, they can find ways around this; childcare is one of these. There are two ways the employer can ask about the underlying childcare issue without directly asking by using a job related question.

  • A job related question about problems coming to work early hours or not leaving before a certain time
  • A question about working overtime or on weekends and holidays

There are various ways you can use to expect an underlying question about childcare by observation and dealing with other questions.

  • If you notice mainly older persons or very young people working at the company
  • If you are asked about being available certain hours or days
  • If you are asked about coming into work on short notice
  • If you are asked about the flexibility of your schedule

Background Issues

There are many ways in which background issues can become a job related question. Expecting the underlying, or hard, question in this area will help you avoid being sidelined without notice.

  • If you are asked about periods of unemployment
  • If you are asked if you left any previous jobs without cause
  • If you were well liked at previous jobs

Some of the ways of dealing with questions regarding background issues involve a proactive approach.

  • Be prepared to answer questions about criminal history, education or job hopping if it is on paper
  • Be willing to address issues about your background even if the question is not directly asked
  • General Guidelines for Hard Questions

    Here are some general guidelines for dealing with job related questions which could prove to be issues.

    • Provide the information asked for and nothing more. Do not confess to all of your past negative issues.
    • Talking too much about any one issue draws attention and may be seen as you are trying to avoid another issue.
    • Maintain good eye contact. Looking away can mean either dishonesty or distraction
    • Acknowledge your past actions and take responsibility for them. Discuss briefly how and what positive lesson you have learned from this action
    • Discuss the changes you have made, or are attempting to make, to correct any problem issues in your past personal or employment history.
    • Be sure that your points are short and positive
    • .
    • If you are going to discuss an issue without being directly asked, do so near the end of the interview being sure to end with a positive outcome.

    Remember to support yourself and your statements with positive wording such as

    • I can
    • I have
    • I will
    • I am
    • I succeeded
    • I overcame

    Support your statements with examples as often as possible. This makes positive statements more credible, better understood and more memorable. You want to be remembered for the positive outcome. Dealing with questions, both job related and the underlying background issues in this manner will leave the employer with a good representation of what you are now, and will be but not what you have been.