When job-hunting, after hearing the words “We’d like to bring you in for an interview,” it’s not uncommon to feel a range of emotions — everything from excitement that your resume revamp, cover-letter writing, and networking have paid off to very understandable feelings of nervousness about having an actual meeting. The best way to balance out any pre-interview anxiety is to prepare and rehearse responses to potential questions.
Here are some tips from a recent article in The Cut on how to respond to some of the questions you’re most likely to be asked:
- “Tell me about yourself.” Despite how broad this question sounds, when hiring managers ask it, they’re looking for a brief overview of who you are as a professional, rather than an extensive personal history. When you respond, you’ll want to highlight some of your strengths and spend some time talking about your most recent work-related experience (whether that’s a job, an internship, a class, etc.), without going to deep into the nitty-gritty details. (You can get into those later.)
- “What about this job interests you?” Sure, it may be true that your cancer experience has inspired you to look for a position that has more flexibility, better health insurance or other benefits you know this job provides. However, your answer to this question should reflect a keen understanding of and enthusiasm for what this specific position entails day-to-day. Remember, the interviewer is looking for the best person to do the work that needs to be done, so the savviest thing to do is to sell yourself as that person.
- “Why are you leaving your current job?” / “Why did you leave your last job?” For many survivors, this is the interview question that causes the greatest level of anxiety, as the complete answer may be very closely tied to their cancer experience (e.g., they needed to leave their job to undergo surgery and spend time recovering), which can lead to concerns about disclosure. But it’s important to remember that the person across the table is probably asking this question of everyone who comes in for an interview, to make sure that their reason for moving on from their previous job seems reasonable and isn’t the result of poor performance or a rift with a supervisor, for example. So rather than saying you took time off work for cancer treatment, you might instead use “The Swivel” technique and say something along the lines of, “I realized that my last job wasn’t a great fit, so I took a step back to think about what I wanted, and realized that I’m excited about using my retail skills to work for an online vendor, such as your company.”
To read the full article from The Cut, click here. And for more on looking for work after cancer, check out the following resources from CAC: