So, Why Have You Had so Many or so Few Jobs? It’s one of the most dreaded interview questions as it immediately puts the candidate in a defensive posture. When faced with such a challenge, resist the temptation to dance around the subject. A good interviewer can tell the difference between mental agility and blowing smoke so play it straight and attack the question head on.
Let’s face it. The days of lifetime employment are a couple of generations gone. The trouble is, the rules and associated perceptions of one’s work history are not so clearly defined.
Chase opportunity too frequently and you’re considered a flighty job hopper with no loyalty. Stay too long at a single company and you’re considered stale, inflexible commodity that’s been institutionalize. Since when did the workplace become a remake of Shawshank Redemption?
Regardless of what side of the question you face, when answering the important thing is to have a clear career story line that provides a logical rationale for your decision-making. Perhaps you stayed a company for two decades because you were consistently provided with new challenges and advancement opportunities. Or maybe you bounced about because the size, scope, and practices at your various organizations sparked you to look elsewhere.
While the question can seem accusatory, the interviewer is usually just looking for your thought process (and a way to guard against making a costly hiring mistake). Accommodate by never apologizing for your decisions. Simply talk him or her through your career history explaining why you made each move and what you learned along the way. This is also a great time to share what you hope to gain by joining their organization and what you will you can offer once in place.
Need a career coach? Contact me using the form above.
Want to connect with free work/life resources and research? Subscribe to this blog.