Your resume is like an advertisement. You are “advertising yourself” to anyone who reads it, trying to emphasize your strengths, and conceal your weaknesses. It would be foolish to do any otherwise, because at the end of the day, you want employers to invite you for the interviews to their companies. That’s the goal you follow with your resume, cover letter, and with each job application you send to someone.
Hiring managers are well-aware of the reality. And why they can appreciate your design skills and self-expression on an excellent resume, they take your claims with a grain of salt. They need to see for themselves, they need to talk to you, meet you in person, and compare how the reality matches with the words on your resume.
Some of them take it one step further. They immediately suppose that you didn’t tell the entire story on your resume. Or that you depicted something in a way that doesn’t exactly mirror the reality. And that’s when they ask you this interview question.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers. I include on my list different ways of dealing with the question. The conventional way–admitting some weakness, but also couple of unconventional ways of answering this one. Do not forget to read also my notes below the answers for additional hints and explanations.
7 sample answers to “What should I know that is not on your resume?” interview question
- You should probably know why I left my last job, and what happened in the previous one. I left the last job because I wasn’t satisfied with the compensation for my work. I discussed it several times with the managers, but they dismissed any idea of a raise, and I decided to look for a job elsewhere. Because with my qualifications and experience, I knew I could earn better. But I also want you to understand that I am not greedy. I have a family, want to send my kind to good schools one day, and that would not be possible if I stayed with my previous employer. The previous job I left because I realized I wanted to specialize in mechanical engineering, and my position back then didn’t allow it. However, now I am applying for a job with you, because--if I understand the job description correctly, I will be able to further specialize in mechanical engineering of car tires with you, and your salary offer is a competitive one. So I won’t have the issues I had with my previous jobs.
- Well, you should probably know that I sometimes struggle with relationships with my colleagues. Not that I initiate conflicts or anything of that sort. But I am a sort of a lonely wolf, and also an outsider in many ways–with my diet, opinions on life, and minimalist lifestyle. Hence I find many talks in the workplace pointless, and do not find any interest in engaging in them. When it comes to work, however, you can rely on me 100% that I will take care of my duties, with great precision. But if you were looking for someone who’d cheer up the collective in the office, I would not be the right guy…
- You should know that I am an excellent communicator, problem solver, and extremely attentive to the needs and feelings of my colleagues, which helps with avoiding conflicts, and with building a better atmosphere in the workplace. But I didn’t want to brag about these things on my resume. I hope you can see for yourself now, in the interview, and will agree that my strengths will benefit the collective in your company.
- There isn’t any such thing. I know that most people exaggerate on their resume. They do so to improve their chances to get more interview invitations, and some will tell an outright lie, for example about their education or experience, just to get a chance in the interviews, hoping the hiring managers won’t verify their claims. But this isn’t my way of doing things. Look, the last thing I want to do is to waste my time or time of the hiring managers, trying to get jobs I am not qualified for, and telling lies on my resume. Everything is there, and I am here now, and I believe that what you see and hear from me matches perfectly with claims I made on my job application, and on my resume.
- You should probably know that I really love your company, your brand. I’ve been a customer of this bank for years, and the same is true about my family. Each and every time we get an amazing customer service, be it in the branch, or on the phone, and it will be a dream come true if I join your team. That’s not something you can find on my resume, but I hope that my enthusiasm conveys the message clearly enough.
- I honestly thing that after everything you’ve asked me up to this point, there are no more secrets. You’ve asked me questions about my motivation, goals, and many scenario-based questions. Answering each one honestly, you should have a good idea of who I am, why I am here today, and how I will approach my daily job in your company. I didn’t write these things on my resume, because in my opinion one should learn about them in the interviews…
- You should know that though it seems I have a big employment gap on my resume, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t doing anything during that 14 months period. I worked on my skills, learned to speak French, and some basic programming, and I re-evaluated my priorities in life. It is not that I didn’t want to work or stayed in a bed with depression, or anything similar. It was simply a time to reflect on life, past and future, and decide what I want to do next. I came to a conclusion to move to the hotel industry, and that’s how I ended up here.
Show them that you aren’t afraid to talk about sensitive issues
Mentioning the reasons why you left your last job, explaining an employment gap on your resume, or even talking about communication problems you had with your colleagues. It may seem a contra-productive strategy in an interview for an outsider. However, hiring managers are aware that perfect employees do not exist.
They know that you have some weaknesses, as well as some expectations, and they prefer to discover them in the interviews, and not later, when they surface in the workplace. What is more, once you are aware of your mistakes and weaknesses, you know what you should work on. And once you express your expectations clearly in the interviews, they will know what they have to offer you to get you onboard, in terms of working conditions, salary, benefits, and other important things…
Turn it upside down and talk about your strengths and achievements
A good resume is one page long, or two page long. Needless to say, you cannot write much on two pages. All you can do is briefly explaining your education, experience, skills, and add a couple of references. But the fact that you worked for 2 years for ABC company on XYZ position does never tell the entire story.
What exactly did you do in the company? Did you manage to achieve some interesting results? Have you been promoted internally? What did you learn while holding XYZ position?
You should elaborate on these things in an interview. Normally they will ask about them in separate questions. But if they do not ask, or if you forget to tell them something important, this question is your opportunity to return to it, and share your important message with the interviewers.
Do not be afraid of unconventional answers
At the end of the day, job interview is a competitive affair. You want the managers from the company to remember you at the end of the day. You want to stand out. Saying the same things everyone else will say won’t typically do the trick…
Now, it doesn’t mean that you should opt for some bizarre answers that will leave your interviewers puzzled. But with one or two questions at least, you should try to show some out of the box thinking, or say something surprising. This question is a good opportunity to do so. Check sample answers no. 4, 5, and 6 on my list for such examples.
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- What is your favorite brand and why?
- Tell us about a time when you failed.
- Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.