Answering Difficult Questions: Are your Explanations Reasons or Justifications?

I will have to admit, I am a word and a numbers person.  My mom was head of payroll for a very large corporation for many years, my uncle is a well-known and respected CPA, my brother traded money on the Chicago Board of Exchange and I worked in finance. 

We are all kind of number freaks.  I remember my brother teaching me our phone number when I was little, the last four digits were 4217, he taught me, “Four plus two plus one equals seven.”  I think I was five. 

But the other part of me is a word freak.  I love new words, I love creating stories and images using words, which is a good thing since I do a lot of writing of resumes!  It is not so much the origin of words that I like to explore, but how words can be used differently in different situations.  In other words, how people twist words to suit their purpose. 

Teenage boys are a wonderful source of entertainment for this purpose.

For example the word justification.  According to Dictionary.com the definition of justification is: a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends. Although I really don’t like to see a word used in a definition, it seems to defeat the purpose. And listed within is the word reason: a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event. 

When you are asked a difficult question, is your explanation a reason or justification?  In my house there is one determining factor: are you trying to get away with something?  If you are then the explanation is a justification.  If you are not then your explanation is a reason.  Sounds simple enough. 

During the job search and interview phase remember that the person you are talking to is much like me when talking to my boys: we have our BS meter on and in full force.  So when you are asked a difficult question make sure that your explanation is stating a reason, not a justification. 

Normally other’s actions are not justification for your stupidity and in extreme examples that is a debate best left to a judge.  My gentle reminder for the day would be to think carefully about how you are going to answer difficult questions then run them by a trusted friend who has a great BS meter to get their input.

The reason for this is simple: you do not want to come across as whiny or complaining or assigning blame to anyone at any time.  If your actions are valid, honest and true then you do not need justification now do you?

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