It’s safe to say that there are certain questions you can pretty much count on being asked during a job interview. In fact, The Muse recently compiled a list of 31 of the most commonly asked questions — and how to answer them. Obviously you won’t know for sure which questions the hiring manager will pose until you’re actually sitting across from each other (or talking via phone or Skype). So, in order to sound articulate and confident, you’ll want to think about those likely questions — and how you want to respond — before the interview.
If you’re a cancer survivor, there are a few of those “common” questions that can be particularly challenging — especially if the answers are related to your diagnosis and you’ve decided to keep your health status private. For example, questions #21 and #22 on The Muse’s list are ones worth spending some time crafting answers for, so that you don’t get caught off guard and are prepared to share only as much information as you want to.
21. “Why was there a gap in your employment?”
These days, it’s no longer uncommon for people to have a gap on their resume. With corporate mergers and companies streamlining operations to meet their bottom line, workers can find themselves out of a job quite unexpectedly. So having a gap in your work history won’t necessarily raise a red flag the way it might have years ago — and it doesn’t automatically indicate you have a health issue. Still, you’ll want to be able to respond in a way that feels comfortable for you.
Regardless of what information you decide to share (or not) in response to a question like this, the main point you’ll want to get across is your interest in the position and why you should be hired. Be sure to reference your relevant skills and experience and how you’d be an asset to the company overall.
22. “Can you explain why you changed career paths?”
After being diagnosed with cancer, many survivors begin to view their lives from a different perspective. They give renewed thought to how they spend their days, including the kind of work they do. As a result, a number of survivors decide they want to devote their time and energy to something more meaningful; they want a job that’s more fulfilling.
But it’s not only cancer survivors who experience this shift in focus; as such, it’s not necessarily the case that the interviewer will assume that your change in careers was prompted by a health crisis. So again, the key thing is to have your answer underscore your passion for the type of work you’re pursuing, why it interests you, and why you’ll be so good at it.
Since you know it’s likely you’ll be asked at least some of the most common interview questions the next time you’re being considered for a job, the key is to prepare in advance. Decide what information you want to share and how you’ll convey it so that you sound polished, professional, qualified and authentic.
— For the complete Muse article, click here.
— For Cancer and Careers’ Mock Interviews, click here.
— To order or download a free copy of our Job Search Toolkit, visit our Publications page.