How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you manage…
John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC
Everyone makes mistakes. Even so, it can be embarrassing when they’re your mistakes. And when those mistakes involve job changes, they can be tricky to explain in an interview.
First, cut yourself some slack. You’re not likely to meet someone who’s never made a mistake. Sometimes, mistakes can look like mistakes only with the benefit of hindsight.
Take an honest look at the circumstances around that decision that you need to explain. Was your choice made with incomplete information? Or were there things you could have known if you had asked the right questions? Did your decision look and feel right at the time? Or was it merely the best among a bunch of bad options?
Use your observations to craft a one or two-sentence explanation of how and why you made the decision. Fine-tune the language until it gives an objective view of what happened. Does it distinguish between taking all the blame and none of the responsibility?
Now, consider what you have learned. Use the same writing exercise until your language articulates the actual lesson. You may need multiple drafts. Without this effort, it’s easy to tell yourself that you did learn something. When you write, you will be more honest about what you learned.
Once you’ve completed both steps, test-drive your explanation with a friend or co-worker. Does it accurately lay out the circumstances around the original decision? Does it make clear what lesson you learned? Most importantly, does it have the ring of truth?
Interviewers aren’t interested in playing “gotcha” about something on your resume that reflects a wrong decision. They’re more interested in what you have learned and how you’re moving forward from it.
Contact us if you’re having difficulty explaining a job change that might have been a mistake. Maybe we can help.