Our expert advice on answering difficult interview questions about your work history

In part two of our difficult interview questions series, we are looking at questions around work history.  

When hiring managers ask about employment gaps or why you want to leave the company you’re currently in; you can start to feel under pressure but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in this article.

“Why do you want to leave your current company?”

It's understandable that employers will be curious about why an employed person is looking to leave a current role and take on a new one with their firm. They want to be certain you're pursuing a new role for the right reasons.

The key to this question is to stay focussed on the positive aspects of why you are moving on. You could discuss topics such as the important of career progression, learning new skills or working in a different environment to challenge yourself. Take some time to reflect on the reasons you are looking to move on before the interview so that you can be prepared for this question. 

It’s important not to talk negatively about your employer as it could impact your professional manner.  

Business Manager, Steph says, “Where possible, you should to be positive about your current employer and stay focussed on the positive reasons for a new move. 

If you have decided to move on for a new challenge or better development opportunities for example, you should focus on this and why you believe that this role will enable you to fulfil those ambitions. Ensure that you think about your answer beforehand and tailor it according to the role you are being interviewed for so that it’s appropriate for the interviewer."

“Why is there a gap in your employment history?”

The hiring manager will understand that this could potentially have been for a very personal reason, so it’s ok to be honest – you may have taken time off to start a family, or perhaps you went travelling.

If you can, try to think of a skill that this time off enabled you to develop, which may help you to stand out as a unique candidate.  For example, if you went travelling it could have grown your confidence, helped you communicate more effectively, or work on your own initiative. 

It’s important to stay positive and not to overshare. Explain the situation briefly, show that it has ended and talk about what you have learned, if applicable and if appropriate discuss how this won't impact on your new role. Then recap your interest in working with the employer to bring it back to the main interview. 

Senior Business Manager, Simon says “it’s important to be honest and not to go into too much detail. You can discuss why you decided to take a particular gap in your career at that point, for example, if you were working on a home project, explain why - perhaps it was the right time/opportunity to do so, if a family member was unwell perhaps you needed to take a break to help – whatever the reason it needs to be the truth.”

“What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?”

Regardless of what industry you work in there will be highs and lows and you need to be prepared to talk about it.

What you like most about the industry you work in is a good place to start. Think about what drives your passion for your job. Pick out examples of what you’ve done in your career which reflects what you like about the industry or the job.

Take a look at the job description, it may mention some attributes, skills or responsibilities that you can work into your answer.

Now the tricky part, it’s time to talk about what don’t you like. The last thing you want to do is make your interviewer worried that you’ll be unhappy in the job.

There are a couple of ways that you could approach this question. One approach is to pick something that’s universally dreaded by almost everyone in the industry. Another approach is to focus on the tasks that aren’t key elements of the job description, but again, try to be as positive as possible when answering this question, or bring it back around to focus on your key strengths. For example, you could be a marketing manager who doesn’t like selling in press releases because it isn’t hands on or as creative as your other work. 

Next week

In the next part of this blog series, we will be looking at difficult questions about how you’ve handled work related situations.

Follow us on LinkedIn to get the first look at part three. We also have more career advice here - https://www.elevationrecruitmentgroup.com/careers-advice






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