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Acing the interview

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in Hiring,Human Resources,Your Office Coach

Question:  “After our company was acquired, the environment became very negative and unpleasant. Many employees were being asked to leave. I felt that I should take control of my career, so I gave eight weeks notice and departed on good terms. However, I did not have another job lined up. Now I’m wondering if I’ve made a fatal career mistake. I have had many interviews, but no job offers. When asked why I left, I say, "I felt my skills were not being fully utilized, so I decided to move in a different direction".  Is this the best way to explain my decision?” — Worried

Marie’s Answer:  When interviews fail to produce offers, poor interviewing skills are often the reason.  While this particular response is not terrible, it could definitely be improved upon. Here’s how:

•    Think like an employer. Saying "I felt my skills were not being utilized" sounds a bit whiny and self-centered, so interviewers may fear that you could easily become dissatisfied and leave for greener pastures.  

•    Most business people understand the turmoil created by an acquisition, so that’s a better explanation.  For example: "Our firm was acquired by a larger company, resulting in a number of layoffs and a lot of uncertainty. Although I was not asked to leave, I decided this would be a good time to explore new opportunities.”

•    Be sure to mention your eight-week notice period, because that sends a positive message about your work ethic. Provide references to verify that your departure was voluntary. Finally, describe why you are attracted to this potential employer and what you can bring to the job.  

One valuable lesson to be learned from this experience is the danger of leaving one job before you find another.  

To improve your interviewing skills, practice with our Sample Interview Questions.

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