Getting Back in the Game – Interviewing When It’s Been A While

It’s time – you’ve been invited to interview! But, it’s been a while and maybe you’re feeling out of practice. You’ve done your research and know why you want the job, but you’re not sure how this will go. Interviewing and the hiring process has changed over the years, so here’s what to expect and how to bring your A game.

Hiring often takes longer than it used to

Not too long ago it was common for companies to place an ad, interview candidates and make an offer in the span of a month. If your jaw just dropped, it’s okay – hard to believe it was that easy. All of us have seen and felt the Great Recession. The recruiting world changed, as well, and hiring managers still field an enormous amount of applicants for one single position. Coupled with the fact that people are much more transient now in the workplace (read: people move around more) – hiring managers are inundated and thus have a much different process for finding qualified employees.

Companies are increasingly taking months to hire – some may move quickly – but the norm is to have a more drawn out process. Position descriptions have to be approved, salary ranges require research for approval, and hiring committees need to be assembled. All of this equals time and from the outside feels frustrating. Companies want to do what it takes to make the best decision. If you’re hearing crickets on the other end – focus on what you can control and do your best. The rest will fall into place.

Interview types and styles have changed

Multiple rounds of interviews, screening calls, prerecorded videos, panels, casual interviews, meet and greets, super days – the interviewing landscape has changed! Although you should still be prepared for it, many companies today are ditching the formal interview. Despite these new techniques, all recruiters still want to get at the same things: soft skills, hard skills, and your ability to fit with the team and company. No matter the format, hiring managers are still expecting professionalism and for you to be able to articulate your experiences in a way that makes sense for the position and company.

It’s still important to do your due diligence and research before any kind of interview. Finding contacts at the company/department for informational interviews is one of the best ways to get an edge, especially if this is an interview format you haven’t experienced. Do all that you can to prepare and use your resources – remain confident and put your best foot forward!

You may be asked to do a pre-employment test

Many companies in both the private and public sector use pre-employment tests, such as aptitude and personality tests, as the most effective method to measure your ‘fit’, or match, for a position you apply for. Whether you agree with this practice or not, the employers who have adopted these assessments use them to compare candidates’ scores against the position requirements and make the first round of decisions on this data.

For example, if a recruiter is hiring for a sales position and the assessment indicates that a candidate is risk-averse and too accommodating, perhaps that person is not the best fit. And, if you do take a pre-employment test and it indicates you’re not a strong fit for the position, there may be another in the company that is better for your strengths.

Remember that there is not a right or wrong answer. While this may feel daunting, relax and bring your best self, just as you would in an interview. If you have to pretend to be someone else to pass a pre-employment test, is that really the right job for you?

The hiring process can feel rather impersonal – and it has nothing to do with you

You’ve interviewed with a company, possibly even more than once, and then hear nothing. You may feel slighted, but this is a good time to remember it probably has nothing to do with you. There could be a lot going on with the hiring committee: unforeseen budget cuts, scheduling issues, vacations and/or illnesses. On the other hand, it’s increasingly common for companies to not send out notices when not moving candidates along. Again, this has nothing to do with you, and more likely due to the hiring manager juggling a lot at once. In these situations, it’s perfectly fine to follow-up accordingly.

It’s still a good idea to follow-up – just do it respectfully

It can be nerve-wracking to wait to hear back from an employer after an interview. But, if you give in to those nerves by contacting before you should or too many times, you risk tarnishing the good impression you made when you interviewed. If the recruiter has given you a hiring timeline – make note of it and trust the process. Don’t check in beforehand, email multiple times, or call repeatedly and hang up at voicemail.

If an employer wants to hire you – they’re most definitely not going to forget about you. If you’re the strongest candidate, you don’t need to do anything to keep yourself in the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind; you’re already there. Following up once – after the timeline they give you for hearing something has passed – is fine. But, beyond that, all you can do is be patient and wait.

SO, it’s been a while – and you got the interview! What can you do?

Take steps to reduce your anxiety – practice! The University of Richmond Career Services team offers opportunities to have a mock interview with experienced advisors via in-person, phone, or Skype. Make sure that you are able to confidently answer situational/behavioral questions and articulate your skills and abilities. The fact that you have been invited to an interview shows that the employer believes (at least on paper) that you can do the job.

Prepare a response for questions about any gaps on your resume. Regardless of whether you were out of work for company downsizing, relocation, or other life event you will get asked about it. Be honest and briefly state the reason – and then redirect immediately to a positive statement. Talk about what this experience taught you and make it relevant to the employer.

Have you been with the same employer for a number of years? The hiring manager may be wondering if you can handle new challenges and unfamiliar situations. Make sure that your responses demonstrate your flexibility, desire to learn new things, and take on new challenges.

Remember – you are here for a reason. All of your experiences have led you here and prepared you for this time. Be confident in your abilities, but never egotistic. Trust the process.

Written By: Becca Shelton, Career Advisor

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