This month’s  career collective bloggers question is:  “What should job seekers do now to prepare for interviews?”   Scroll down for thoughtful ideas and useful tips from my fellow bloggers.


MY FANTASY: With every chronic illness diagnosis comes a toolkit filled with all you need to prepare for the unpredictable  (more on this in my post,   “Unpredictable getting to you?”).    But, whether you’re dealing with chronic health issues or not,  you can’t predict when the opportunity for the big  interview will come. What will it take to be prepared so your best possible self shows up when this happens?

You might ask yourself: What does being prepared for a job interview mean to me?

I had a client who thought she was prepared.  She’d never had trouble finding work before.  Even in a bad economy, she expected unemployment would be short.     She had her interview clothes  (both a suit and a pants/sweater version in winter and summer material!) set aside just for this.    She updated her resume weekly with any pertinent activities.  She contacted her references regularly to make sure they were current and used social media and her networks.

Nine months of looking and she hadn’t gotten a second interview.  But she stayed hopeful.  She felt as prepared as she could be  — until the interview that showed her the holes in her prep.

This interview came through a colleague from her last job.  As they talked, she was stunned when she realized that the person interviewing her knew that she had a chronic illness.  Nothing was said, but she felt sure about it and was painfully aware of her own awful discomfort.  Although her illness had not been a factor in her current unemployment,  she froze thinking there was an “elephant in the room”.

She knew how to prepare for an interview as her “old/ healthy self”.  But she had ignored  illness as a factor in this job hunt and this was sabotaging her efforts.

The idea of a toolbox is really a joke– which is why I call it fantasy.  Wouldn’t it be nice if life were so neat?   I wish I could create a box filled with tools you could pull out when you need them.  I’m sure it would make me rich.  But there are skills you can develop.

In this case, my client needed to address her fears.  She probably would have benefited from an “internal conversation” with herself  as described in this post,  Is there an elephant in the room: handling difficult conversations — (scroll to Part One, Internal conversation).  That would have helped her to know what she didn’t want to face.

What have you learned about preparing for the job interview or for what life throws your way?

CAREERCOLLECTIVE BLOGGERS:

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Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward

How to Stand Out in a Job Interview @heathermundell

Avoid These Reference Mistakes @DawnBugni

Unspoken Secrets of Job Interviewing Prep: How Your Nonverbal Presentation and Behaviors Impact the Impression You Make @KatCareerGal

Prep for Interviews Now: Snuff out the Elephant in the Room Later! @chandlee << not working yet

What Should Job Seekers Do Now to Prepare for an Interview @erinkennedycprw

Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview @barbarasafani

Are You Ready for the Elephant in the Room? @WorkWithIllness

“Tell Me About Yourself” (Oh, Yikes!), @KCCareerCoach

The job interview as a shared narrative @WalterAkana

Prepare your references for job search success @Keppie_Careers

No Pain No Gain In Job Search and Interview Prep @ValueIntoWords

Job searching? Take a cue from the Boy Scouts @LaurieBerenson

Preparing for Career Success Starts with Interviewing the Employers @JobHuntOrg

 

20 Responses to “Are you ready for the elephant in the room?”  

  1. 1 career sherpa

    Rosalind:
    Super story of how we overlook the obvious! The answer to the elephant in the room question has to be carefully constructed and that requires preparation. It is nearly impossible to handle this on the fly the way we really would have wanted to. Planning/preparing for an interview is so much more than having your clothes ready! Thanks for your story!

  2. 2 Rosalind

    Thank you for my emphasis on preparation!

  3. 3 Gayle Howard

    Clearly the interviewer was a little too well briefed by the referring colleague from the candidate’s former workplace.

    I’m not sure the referring “friend” did the candidate any favors by revealing personal illness to a potential employer without giving them the opportunity to hear first hand how talented she was! Why simultaneously refer and sabotage the candidate?

    I think perhaps the moral of this story (to prepare for that elephant in the room) would have been to discuss just what the reference either had said or was about to say. If the candidate had known that her former colleague had spoken of her health issues, at least she could have gone in with a prepared strategy rather than being “caught on the hop”.

    The employer/interviewer obviously had the advantage of knowing something about the candidate that could have been handled quite differently if the candidate had talked with the reference before the interview.

  4. 4 Rosalind

    Good point, Gayle. Actually, what happened here is not unusual from what I’ve seen. My client’s former colleague mentioned her illness to this contact prior to when she set this meeting up. The problem for my client is that she hadn’t considered this possibility. And that’s the key element. Thinking strategically, you always have to be prepared for the ‘possibility’.

  5. 5 Amy

    I’m in a somewhat similar situation now – I am using a friend as reference for a job, she is handing in my application. It would be the first position I am applying for after being out of the market 2 years with my illness — so an obvious resume gap will show up. I think I might try to give my friend some advice on what to say if the hiring manager asks her about my work history gap – but what? I’m not even sure what I should say about it! Any advice??

  6. 6 Rosalind

    Amy- You might ask yourself: what are my options for handling this? If you put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager, do you have some ideas what would help that person understand your situation enough and still want to meet and interview/hire you? If you haven’t a clue, then say as little as possible until you have a clearer idea. Your friend can do the same – she can defer and say that it’s best you explain it. Most importantly, don’t disclose any more than is absolutely necessary and certainly, not until you get an interview.
    If your resume has gaps that you don’t know how to fill-spend the money to get help from a resume writer so you can emphasize your strengths – not the gaps.

  7. 7 Aimie

    I love your blogs. Each one helps me navigate through job search, interview and etc.

  8. 8 Rosalind

    I am glad this is helpful.

  9. 9 5000 euroa lainaa

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after
    looking at some of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking
    it and checking back often!

  1. 1 Preparing for Career Success Starts with Interviewing the Employers - Job Search News
  2. 2 Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours | The Executive Brand Blog
  3. 3 Avoid these reference mistakes | The Write Solution
  4. 4 Career Collective
  5. 5 Tweets that mention Working With Chronic Illness -- Topsy.com
  6. 6 Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview | CareerSolvers
  7. 7 Sterling Career Concepts Blog
  8. 8 Interview Prep: No Pain, No Gain | Career Management Alliance Blog
  9. 9 Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview | Career Management Alliance Blog
  10. 10 Prepare your references for job search success | Career Management Alliance Blog
  11. 11 The Interview: A Well Rehearsed Performance or Hacked Improv? – Career Sherpa
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