Break the ice, not their will to live
The question “can you talk us through your career to date?” is often used as an icebreaker. However, many candidates seem to hear it as “can you please tell us every little twist and turn you ever took in your career and, in the process, bore us all to death?” writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
They are not really interested in that three months you did in a fairly insignificant and irrelevant role back in 1983. Trust me, they’re not. If it’s not relevant, cut it.
Think of an answer as lasting for approximately three minutes. If you start in 1979, zzzzz, and lead them exhaustively from that point onwards, you won’t be at 1985 let alone 2019 inside three minutes.
Curate your career. Before the interview you planned to talk about items relevant to their requirements. That should also govern your approach to this question.
Therefore you can cover 20 years of your career in five seconds. This may be “for 20 years, I worked as a primary school teacher in schools in Dublin and Limerick”.
In the 21st year, however, you became a deputy principal. This might be where your answer starts to get really relevant because you are now going for a principalship.
Also, come away from the chronological look at your career, and think solely of relevance. So you might well go back 30 years, as I said above, to find that time you were involved in teaching in a newly opened school – because now you are applying for a job as a teacher in a newly opened school.
Use that opening question to give them one, two or three more reasons to hire you. Please, please, don’t bore them to death.
Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.
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