Job Interview Question
What have you been doing since you got laid off?I know…this job interview question makes you want to roll your eyes. The painfully obvious answer is, “I’ve been trying to find a new job!” But you can’t say that.
Why would they ask you this question? It turns out, they have several good reasons for asking.
There are a lot of questions behind this question, and if you know what they are, you can answer it more effectively. Here’s what they’re really asking:
“Are you able to maintain a positive attitude in a very difficult situation?” We all face difficulties in our lives and in our jobs. They want to know that you can keep going and find solutions even in the face of a difficult situation.
“How much of a go-getter are you when no one’s watching?” Do you have the energy level required for this role? If you’ve just been lying around for several months while you’re out of work, the answer is: probably not. If you got a good severance package when you got laid off and took some time for yourself, that’s OK. But you should point out to them that you’ve only recently begun looking: “I’ve just recently begun my search for a new position, and here I am with you. I am really excited about a job opportunity like this one.”
“Are you able to fill your time with constructive tasks when it seems you have nothing to do?” Are you a seeker? If you’ve been filling your time with retraining yourself or learning something new or even completing some family task you’ve always wanted to do, that’s great and you should talk about it.
In fact, I always recommend that, in order to stay motivated for the job search, job seekers spend no more than 4-5 hours a day actively job searching. After that, do something that helps your mental or physical state: Volunteer, learn a new skill, take a class, even work out.
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Job searching is tough and you should take care of yourself while you’re in the process. I know of one guy who lost 50 pounds while he was out of work. Not only was that impressive, it did wonders for his attitude and mental outlook while he was job hunting.
All of those other things: volunteering, learning a new skill, or taking a class, are powerful signals to the hiring manager that you are someone who keeps striving. You are a go-getter and if she’s smart, she’ll jump at the chance to have a self-starter like you on her team.