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How to Overcome a Negative Background During a Job Interview

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A negative job background can prevent you from getting a job, even if you have impressive skills and experience. Employers might focus on the negative aspects of your resume, such as an employment gap or a termination, rather than on your suitability for the job. If you have any troublesome areas on your resume, it’s important to develop a positive response to counteract any negatives.


A termination doesn’t have to be a career-ending event. While it might be uncomfortable to talk about your termination, acknowledging and addressing the situation may help put both you and your interviewer at ease. Briefly explain what happened but don’t dwell on every detail of the termination. The CBS Money Watch website suggests discussing the cause of the termination, such as a bad fit for the position, and describing what you learned from the experience.

Employment Gaps

Although gaps in your employment history can occur for a variety of reasons, what’s most important is what you did during the gap to maintain or advance your career. If you stayed home for five years to take care of your children, you might mention that you used your accounting skills as the volunteer bookkeeper for the PTA. If you had difficulty finding a job after you moved to a new area, you can explain that you used the time to learn a new skill or take training classes that would be helpful in your next job.

Criminal Background

A criminal background might just be the most difficult hurdle to overcome in your job search, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, briefly explain the situation and describe how you’ve changed for the better. In some cases, you might not have to disclose your background. The Goodwill Industries International, Inc. website suggests familiarizing yourself with the laws in your state regarding what employers can and cannot ask during an interview. It notes that your state might not allow employers to ask about arrests that didn’t lead to convictions or might only allow them to ask about convictions that occurred during a specific time frame.

Lack of Experience

Whether you’re just getting started in your career or hoping to change fields, lack of experience can derail your chances of getting a job. If you’re a recent graduate, discuss what you’ve learned during your schooling and discuss any specialized skills or certifications you’ve acquired. Volunteer and internship experiences can be just as valuable as paid experience. Put these positions on your resume and mention what you learned working in these positions. Describe how you can use your education and skills to benefit the company if hired.