In last week’s blog we started a discussion about how we help our candidates answer tricky interview questions, especially the one concerning why they left their previous position.  If one didn’t leave their previous role on their own volition, there are generally only two other answers to this question: 1. “I was downsized” or 2. “I was terminated”.  Today we will look at how to answer the question if downsizing was the catalyst for looking for new work.

Removing Emotion from Answers

The first thing and most important thing CMS Program Coaches must do is help our candidates to be aware of their emotions and how they may affect their answers in an interview.

Avoid Assumptions: Because a downsizing event happens to one personally, it ‘feels big’ and one may assume that others have heard of it.  This of course is not always the case and assumptions during interviews can make the conversation awkward and quickly go off track.

Don’t Speculate: We must advise our candidates to be honest but not to get into speculation regarding why a downsizing happened or how the company could have done it better.  In addition, emotions may prompt one to make negative comments about a previous employer, which does not leave a positive first impression with someone who is in a position to change our candidate’s employment status!

Leave Baggage at Home:  Although interviewers will be interested in why one left their previous employer, they are not interested in one’s opinions of the last company.  At CMS we work with our candidates to develop answers that are honest, professional and to the point, so that they can refocus the conversation around their skills, experience and how they can contribute to this new potential employer.

CMS Program Coaches must remind our candidates that interviewers do not know the people involved in one’s past and they have no way of making a judgment. But, they can judge the candidate and how they deal with the situation today!