Interview Tips for Return-to-Work Moms©

In today’s tough economic climate many of the more than 5 million work-at-home moms are deicing to return to work to help meet expenses.  As a retuning mom, the most important factor for successful interviewing is to be confident and self assured and know that your skill set and accomplishments will leave in good standing when compared with other job candidates.

Never apologize for your decision to stay at home with your children. Indeed, it a point of pride as it shows you are able to juggle multiple responsibilities successfully. Explain with confidence that your decision to remain at home served the best interests of your particular family situation but you are now excited by the prospect of returning to work.

What follows are five interview tips for return-to work mom

Build confidence

To be successful with job interviews you will need to project confidence about your skills, abilities and past accomplishments. Take refresher courses if needed in the latest computer and office technology.  If you have a specific industry in mind, perform online and print research to become knowledgeable about any changes since you left.  You don’t want to be caught off-guard at the interview should be asked your opinion of current trends.

Dress to impress

You also want to dress to impress so visit the Web site of any company you will be interviewing with to get a sense of dress code. While the people pictured may not necessarily be employees of the company, their dress will be representative of company preferences.

Tap into your network

Get in touch with all contacts that may be able to help with your job search. If you awkward calling them at their jobs, you can easily search for them via one of the social media sites, such as Facebook Twitter, or LinkedIn. Send a quick note letting them know of your job search and asking about industry changes in your absence and how you should approach your job search. Refrain from asking for a job directly as this can make the person uncomfortable if they have no leads. Successful networking is reciprocal in nature so be ready to exchange something of value, such as an article they will find interesting, tickets to an event, or invitation to lunch.

Pre-Interview steps

  • Before you schedule interviews, make a list of your most important skills, knowledge and accomplishments as related to the career you seek.
  • Make notes on the company research you have performed and prepare a list of 3 to 5 questions based on these notes
  • In addition to company-wide research, call the company to clarify the names of  interviewers you will be meeting with and search for them on LinkedIn and/or Facebook and Twitter.
  • Role-play the interview will family or friends and prepare index cards with short answers that you can easily memorize.
  • Conduct a trial commute to the building so you know how long it will take to get there from your home, about parking options, the correct entrance to use, sign-in procedures to the building, etc.

Interview Etiquette

  • Dress to impress. Even if the company culture is causal, you want to wear business attire to the interview. You will understand dress code from the company research you have performed. Another option is to call the recruiter to ask about dress code.
  • Arrive no more than 15 minutes before you interview appointment in order to complete any need paperwork, such as a job application.
  • Turn off your cell phone, don’t switch to vibrate as the vibration can be heard in a relatively quiet room
  • If provided an application, fill it out legibly and completely. Don’t place the words “See resume” in the Education and Work History sections.
  • At the start of most first-round interviews, the interviewers(s) will provide information on company background and describe the job responsibilities. They will also ask about your work history and past accomplishments.
  • When discussing prior experience keep your answers short and to the point. Provide relevant examples that highlight the contribution you can make to this job.
  • Sit upright, leaning forward just slightly to indicate interest. Smile often as this suggests a warm and friendly nature
  • Modulate the tone and pace of your voice so you are not speaking too loudly or quickly. Take a deep breath before each question as this will serve to calm your nerves.  Having prepared answers from your role-play will also help calm your nerves.
  • Be sure to ask questions of your own as this indicates interest in the position. Your questions should be based on four areas: 1) job responsibilities, 2) reporting structure, 3) training provided, 4) planned company initiatives
  • At the end of the interviews be sure to ask about next steps. If a second interview is required, ask if that could be set up before you leave that day. Successful interviewing necessitates a proactive orientation
  • Send a thank you note to each interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. Be brief and reiterate some points you made during the meeting and that you would value the opportunity to further discuss your qualifications.


©Copyright 2012 Lisa Ann Burke. All rights reserved.