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How to Discuss Difficult Topics During Job Interviews

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Work is important, and most people who find success are serious about their professional lives. It can be difficult to talk about the serious events that occur in our lives, especially in a job interview setting, but these issues must be discussed from time to time. They may be necessary to explain gaps in employment. While awkward to talk about in some cases, certain difficult topics can be turned into positive talking points by focusing on the skills and habits learned because of hardships. Among the most difficult subjects to discuss in an interview setting are experiencing a death, being disabled, and being fired from a previous position.

You Experienced the Death of a Loved One

Not every topic is appropriate for discussion in a job interview. Generally speaking, any experience or subject you discuss during the interview should highlight your fitness for the position. If someone close to you passed away, but the death did not directly impact your performance at work, it is probably best not to mention it.

If, on the other hand, the death of a loved one negatively impacted your job performance and it shows on your resume, it is probably worth mentioning. According to experts, things like this are best discussed early and in a straightforward manner. The death of someone close to you can shake you deeply, resulting in time spent away or another change in direction.

If it becomes relevant to your pursuit of another position, you can mention it without creating a tense environment by saying something like this: “Someone I was close to passed away and it caused me to take a break from my career. I’m ready to return to a challenging, productive position.”

Explaining Disabilities

If you have a disability and you’re interviewing for positions, know that you’re not alone. According to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in five people nationwide have a disability. It is unlikely to affect your chances for the position, and there are federal and state laws that prevent employers from discriminating in hiring based on applicant disabilities.

Because of these laws, prospective employers are probably not going to ask about any disabilities during the interview process. However, it may be in your best interest as a job-seeker to broach the subject. A disability is not necessarily a negative for many positions; indeed, it can be evidence of strength in the face of adversity. If you’re going to discuss a disability during your interview, it’s most important to do so confidently.

You Were Fired From a Previous Job

Nobody likes to get fired, and it can be difficult to paint being fired as a positive experience. In a lot of cases, it’s best to not to bring it up. Check with the company that fired you; many have policies not to discuss the exact reasons for separating with an employee and will only confirm dates of employment. However, even if your previous employer won’t spill the beans, honesty remains the best policy.

If you’re asked about the circumstances behind your leaving an employer who fired you, you can simply say “I was let go.” Don’t blame the employer; that won’t show you in a good light. When you’re interviewing for a job or going through a recruitment system, it’s most important to maintain your confidence and focus on why you’re the right candidate for this position now.


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