Being a job-hopper isn’t something to be proud of… but it sure did teach a lot about HRs and job-interview basics.

The only reason why I resign from my former jobs back then were because of two reasons: 1. if the environment is toxic and/or 2. when I realize it’s not something I want to do for a longer time. It doesn’t sound practical, yes, but my ultimate motto in life is to choose myself and protect my mental health at all costs. I always chose my mental health’s betterment over anything else whether or not it seemed practical. You can read why it’s important here.

Although I suffered the repercussions of not having a sustainable income for a few months because of job-hopping, I did learn the types of interviews one can encounter per industry. Some of it? Completely unexpected!

Here are some of the most effective interview tips I learned during the many memorable interviews I have encountered

When I say, “job-hop,” I literally meant every 3-5 months minimum on a different industry. Back in college, I worked as a part-time student in the food industry for 3-8 months and had my internship on a prominent film industry here in the Philippines for 1-2 months. After graduation, I landed a job at a Telecommunications industry, resigned after 11 months for a language industry, worked part-time as a freelancer, tried the BPO industry, while waiting for the real job at a Mall Administration/Retail industry. I even tried Business Development and Pharmaceutical Sales which I found to be NOT my forte (Pharma sales). Now, I am currently working at a Technology industry and it’s honestly both overwhelming and flabbergasting.

Although I have gained lots of experiences PER industry, I felt honestly lost. But it’s okay. You can read why it’s okay not to know what you want yet in your 20s here.

Truth be told, those job-hopping moments made me really depressed in the past. I didn’t know what I was meant for, what I should be doing, and/or what I really wanted. Well, actually, I still don’t know what I should be doing until now, but right at this very moment, I do know that I SHOULD be writing those interview tips — and what comes out of them — if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Situational Time Management

The food industry is not to be under-estimated. While this blue-collar job doesn’t pay well and take your strength as your initial investment, some interviews for this kind of industry are also quite tricky. Here are some of the memorable interviews I’ve encountered:

“Since you go to school and applying at the same time, how are you going to manage your schedule?”

This isn’t as tricky as you may be thinking but at that time, I was doing part-time. The hiring manager was basically asking me how I’m holding up my time management in a situational manner. How I respond must be smart without compromising the two (academics and work).

You won’t encounter this literal question in the real world unless you’re applying for a part-time job, but the same context on time management might come up. Usually, these happens when the interviewer asks you what you do during your busy schedules, or if they try to get to know you and your personal background should it ‘affect’ work (e.g. if you’re a single mom, living with family in the city, etc).

This question requires smart thinking. You have to answer it WITHOUT COMPROMISING anything in your life, as well as this job.

The keyword here is “management.” When you try to explain, ENSURE to stay honest as possible and ASSURE you can do the job and manage your time. You can even insert things like, “enjoying a challenge” or having your personal experience as your ‘experience’ in time management.

For example, I answered that question like this: “Being a student leader in our school during my previous years, while juggling my academics both at the same time, gave me a work ethic I needed today that readied me for this job— time management. I believe I can enforce time management being a service crew while excelling in my academics. To me, this can serve as a new challenge. In comparison to what I do in school; handling school projects and assemblies, a student leader was a tough job I aced with A+ grades. That former challenge proved me what I am capable to do today hence my confidence with this application. This time, not with paper works, but by bussing tables and taking orders.”

I remember scoring 1st on the list of hired employees.

“Tell me about yourself that is not found on your resume”

Most of the interviews will always include the usual, “Tell me about yourself” intro. However, there are some interviewers who will give it a twist— …that is NOT found on your resume.”

Basically, how you must answer this requires wit and relevance to the topic. Especially if you’ve written everything about your whole life in your Résumé. You can view more about some Résumé tips here.

If you’ve ever committed the same mistake I once did, how you’re supposed to answer this should revolve around WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU DO that can contribute to the company. This was a very tricky question and mistake for me back then as I’ve put every job experience I’ve had in detail. In return, I didn’t just give them an idea about my ‘job-hopping,’ I failed that interview immediately.

The acceptable answer for this is telling them who you are authentically and correlating it to the work ethic you (must) exude in your performance.

Example, “My Résumé’s information-aside, one of my hobbies include playing chess and writing. Although these aren’t part of the qualifications the company needs, the way I analyze strategic moves in chess and how creative I can be in writing can help me solve situational problems should there be one. I believe hard skills aren’t the only ones essential to a job. Soft skills too one, in which I learned from my hobbies in playing chess and creative writing.”

Through this, you are not just telling them more about your soft skills (because truthfully, this isn’t what we usually put on a Résumé), but you also tell them more about yourself, glamorizing a usual intro that has depth.

You can get our FREE killer Résumé/CV templates here.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

This my favorite part of the interview— being asked what my strengths and weaknesses are.

Telling them our strengths is easy. However, our weaknesses tend to become fearsome— fearsome of failing the interview!

For some of us, this can be scary—especially for us, women— as we sometimes feel insecurity and/or lack of confidence within ourseleves. But there is a secret into answering this question that ALWAYS hooks hiring managers. This is a first-hand experience I can guarantee a hundred percent: You have to tell them your weakness by telling them it’s not.

What am I saying? “Telling them my weakness when it’s not?” It does sound vague, but you have one word as your weapon and a work ethic to back you up— INTEGRITY!

Here’s what you should do: Draw two columns and be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. What are they? LIST DOWN all you think are your weaknesses in one column and ALL THE POSITIVE THINGS it can come out of it beside.

For example, I used to always say that one of my weaknesses is sometimes being grumpy at work. I’d tell the hiring manager, “I hate when people disturb me when I’m doing something because I don’t want leaving the office without getting things done.” Or, “Sometimes I work slowly because I want to ensure and prioritize quality over the quantity.”

The point here is I’m telling them “WHO I AM” at work. My bad sides. My weaknesses. Who wants a grumpy co-worker who doesn’t smile and is unapproachable? Who wants someone slow? What you don’t realize is hiring managers smile to this at the back of their minds, sometimes unconciously. You are basically telling them how you can manage to do the job based on what the company demands DESPITE your “weaknesses,” and you are still ABLE because of that.

Here’s another secret: Most employers honestly don’t care about who you are and where you came from unless you commit a grave offense found in the handbook. It just cares how you get sh*t done accordingly so the business can run.

When you do this, you are not just making a “weakness” up because you are being HONEST about who you are. At the same time, you are answering a question while still telling them you can do the job.

“Why did you quit your last job?”

Answering this question require diplomacy and tact.

Besides fibbing as a ‘no-no’ to avoid saying the wrong words, you must NOT bash your old boss for being toxic and/or tell them you’ve undergone depression and needed a time off either. Although depression is a valid reason truth be told, some companies still don’t acknowledge this mental illness (sadly). Plus, speaking based on experience, your hiring manager might second-guess your candidacy. In their heads, they’d think you might get “more depressed” when the job gets toxic, and “leave” again.

Another sad truth: Hiring managers only care about the attrition rate. Not you. Not all of them, of course… but most.

Although it is mandatory to tell them the truth so you won’t fail your background check, you can always positive-script the way you answer.

If you resigned based on the following, here’s what you should do:

  1. Compensation

If you’ve resigned from a post because the pay is too low, does not compensate your daily needs and/or does not match the work you do, it’s okay to tell them, “you’re looking for a Greener Pasteur.” It doesn’t hurt to tell your hiring managers you aren’t compensated well, and here’s where they will negotiate with your rate.

Tip: Tell them the highest amount you need (higher than your last salary), especially if they match with your job experiences. Because if they cannot meet them and decide to provide lower, it’s at least higher than you are expecting.

You are getting paid for your WORK and WORTH. So it’s okay to demand your rate.

  1. Workplace toxicity

If you’ve resigned because your co-workers and/or boss were being as*es, you can always tell them “you’re looking for a healthier environment.” I believe having a good working environment is essential to our performance, and even if the job doesn’t compensate well, this won’t make us leave faster than roadrunner.

  1. Personal Reasons

If you resigned because of personal reasons and your hiring manager demands you to give them more details, start fresh and honest. It’s okay to tell them the story on why you quit. Most HRs are trained to be open-minded. Just make sure you are saying it with tact and professionalism.

Bonus interview tips

There are also some other unexpected interview questions you might encounter on your job interviews (especially for the fresh grads) that you should know about. One thing is for sure, you must always remember to be prepared and be well-dressed for your interview to impress your employers. The saying, “first impression lasts” is really legit.

Arrive 15-30 minutes early for your interview so you still have time to retouch, rehearse, and/or reread the job position (and the company) you’re applying for. And bring water to stay hydrated.

In the end, it’s always good to muster up your analytical and creative skills to really nail your interview. It’s not something most of us have as a talent, but it sure can be learned and mastered along the way.

The secret here is conjoining situations in what you can do and what you can offer, always — Conjoining situations and linking them for RELEVANCE.