You are out of a job.
An important question you need to ask yourself is what would you have had to do in order to avoid being out of work? What would you have done differently?
Better performance? A more powerful “rabbi”, someone who would have protected you? More astute political instincts? Better timing, better luck?
This is a pointed question because it explores a candidate’s insight, their values, and, most of all, their integrity. This is the question, more than the vast majority of other interview queries that will test a candidate’s authenticity. Unless you are a very capable politician who makes his or her living off the “tap dance spin”, a lame, dismissive, or contrived response will have the impact of a powerful strobe light going off in a pitch-black room.
So, if you are looking for a job without having a current position, think about this question and give it some deep thought. How can you take this potential train wreck of an inquiry and give a response that positively connects you with the person doing the interview? It is a moment of truth like this that could mean the difference between advancing in the search process or not; getting the job or sitting at home waiting on the next meager unemployment check, courtesy of some smug politicians who think you are too lazy to really go back to work.
On a broader note, the majority of questions you will get in an interview will be identical, or similar, to the ones asked last week or last month, so not being prepared with thoughtful answers is really a bad idea. By several estimates, more than 70 percent of the time, you will be asked the same or similar questions at every interview.
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Finally, the people asking the questions, with the possible exception of the recruiter, are not particularly good or effective at interviewing. Most have not done any homework to prepare themselves. That means a well-prepared candidate can shift the advantage to their side of the court.