Challenging professional experiences can happen to all of us. Maybe you had transportation issues in the past that led to poor attendance, or maybe your performance suffered because there were things happening in your personal life that affected your ability to focus during working hours. While challenges such as these can sometimes be difficult to overcome, they don’t have to define your future career success. Here are some great tips to help you tell your work story – challenges and all – at your next job interview.

Take accountability. 

Past mistakes don’t have to define you; it’s how you address and overcome them that will ultimately determine your success. When jobs don’t work out as we had hoped, it can leave us feeling frustrated, embarrassed, or even ashamed – and in those moments, it may feel easier to blame others for the outcome. However, humbly owning up to your mistakes demonstrates that you’ve gained the maturity and perspective needed to move beyond them so that you can do better in the future. So if you are interviewing for a job, and you have to explain that you were let go from a previous job due to poor attendance or other issues, don’t lie or make excuses. Keep it simple and state the facts – your potential employer just wants to know that you can take accountability for your actions, and that you have taken appropriate steps to ensure that what happened in the past won’t be an issue moving forward. 

Demonstrate that you’re ready for a second chance.  

First, check in with yourself to see if you’re truly ready for this new opportunity. If the factors that contributed to challenges at your last job haven’t changed, think very carefully about whether or not to proceed. It would be very unfortunate to be in the same situation again a couple of weeks or months down the line, and if you repeat those same patterns at multiple jobs, it can make the barrier to employment much more difficult to overcome. If you are indeed ready for a second chance, make sure that you clarify what has changed and what actions you have taken to ensure that you can be counted on to show up on time and ready to work. 

Don’t overshare.

It’s important to recognize that when it comes to interviews for employment, it’s best to stick with providing objective, relevant information. Your personal experiences are valid, but what a hiring manager really needs to hear about is what makes you a good fit for the job at hand. If you share too much personal information beyond that, it could draw attention away from where it belongs – on your qualifications. Do you want the hiring manager to leave your interview remembering the great skills you have to offer, or your detailed story about that one coworker who just wouldn’t stop picking fights with you?  

Focus on the positive, and highlight your successes.

You don’t have to pretend that you loved your past jobs if you didn’t, but you do need to be able to communicate what you learned from those experiences, how they helped you grow, and the skills you gained from them that make you qualified for this job. If there were tasks that you excelled at or found particularly enjoyable, mention those – it gives your enthusiasm for work a chance to shine! Sometimes people are reluctant to talk about their successes because they feel like they’re bragging, and while you do want to be careful not to come across as arrogant, it’s important to celebrate your professional victories! Doing so not only highlights your qualifications, but also shows that you take pride in your work.   

If your job search could benefit from the help of a staffing firm, we hope that you will consider partnering with Manpower. To get started, contact your local branch today by clicking here