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How To Talk Through Bad Grades and Other Interview Red Flags

bad grades interview
Gelila Sebhatu
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Published on November 24, 2015

A red flag, what does that mean? What are some of the things that an employer would flag as questionable? These are great questions! The biggest red flags that come up during the hiring process are having been fired, poor grades, a criminal record and no experience. Some employers would also consider poor references, having no degree, large timeline gaps or even being over-qualified as red flags.

An interviewer’s job isn’t just to find out why they should hire you, but also to unveil reasons not to hire you. This is why they sometimes ask about your weaknesses as well as about times when you failed. It’s also why they prey into any red flags that may come up through the venting process. Below is an exercise you should practice to feel more prepared and comfortable answer those difficult questions.

Conduct an honest personal assessment by writing down the following:

    1. Identifying the red flags of your work habits that might affect your employability.
    2. Identifying the reasons or set of problems that cause these behaviors.
    3. Explaining what you have done to improve the situation and the lesson you learned to reassure the employer that the behavior will not be a problem.

Here is an example:

    1. Red Flag: I was fired at XYZ Company.
    2. Reason: I was late for work many times.
    3. Explanation: At the time, I was working two jobs. One was a late night shift and the other started at 6am. When factoring in the commute time for both jobs, I was left with only 3 hours of sleep a night causing me to be late. While I take full responsibility for being late, my situation has changed where I no longer have to work 2 jobs. I assure you that if you hire me, I’ll demonstrate how reliable, consistent and hard working I am on the job.

Make sure you focus on how you have changed the situation and learned from the experience rather than focusing on the actual problem. I suggest going thorough this exercise and identifying what truthful information you can divulge that won’t be harmful to your chance of obtaining a job.

Also, I don’t suggest to voluntarily offer this information, but only if it comes up during the candidate screening process. Just so you know, legally employers cannot ask you certain questions, per the U.S Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), so understand your rights and what questions are acceptable to answer.

You want to make sure you reassure the employer that history will not repeat itself. Making excuses or blaming others for your problems highlights a more serious behavioral problem – not taking responsibility for your actions. Don’t be that person.  Be the person that is confident, resilient and dedicated to giving your absolute best!

Gelila Sebhatu

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