How To Prepare For An Interview When Reentering The Job Market

Comfortable in your job? Have you ever thought about what would happen if your company merged, downsized you or eliminated your business unit?

Picture this, you’ve been with your current employer for 7 years. Things are going great. You've been promoted twice and overall you're very happy. Until one day, the company you love merges with a key competitor. Months pass, the rumor mill spins and boom, a reduction in force is announced; your position has been eliminated!

In today's business climate, the situation described above isn't uncommon: going through a downsize is part of life. But, the move you make next will be a key factor in whether or not you come out on the other side of a layoff sitting happily in a new position you love or staring at job boards for eight hours a day.

Where To Begin

During a downsize or unplanned reorganization of your career, you're met with a lot of challenges; challenges like reentering the job market. If you've not looked for a new job recently, your first move after getting your pink slip should be acclimating yourself with market trends, resume trends and the general expectations of potential employers. What worked to land your job seven years ago likely won't work today. How you approach your job search will greatly impact whether or not you're a viable candidate in a highly competitive market.

Prepare More Than You Think Is Necessary

Once you're back in the swing of job searching, you'll begin to land interviews. And, while there are many factors to consider before heading to an interview, preparing for each and every meeting is critical when reentering the job market.

Hiring managers know if you're rusty, and unfortunately you won't get a free pass for your lack of experience interviewing. Take time to really understand the company, their competitive landscape and how your skills align with the needs of the opportunity.

Hit All The Usual Interview Preparation Avenues And Then Some

As you sit down to prepare for your interview go through all of the customary steps to prepare.

  • Visit the website of the hiring company.
  • Research competitors of the company.
  • Research the performance of the company: what markets are they currently finding success in and why?
  • Talk to anyone you know who currently works at the hiring company or has worked there in the past. Learn about the culture, how they go to market and what their hot buttons are when hiring and interviewing.

After you hit all of the customary preparation practices, explore social media. Focus on the accounts of the hiring company and their competitors. Make notes about trends you notice within the industry. Use the information gathered as talking points in your interview.

  • What is unique about the hiring company’s social media accounts?
  • What is unique about the social media accounts of their competitors?
  • What type of questions can you formulate for the hiring manager based off unique information you gathered from social media?
  • Pay special attention to industry market trends on social media and question why the company you are meeting with is or is not exploring those same trends.

The Key to Prepare For An Interview When Reentering The Job Market Is Practice

One of the biggest reasons hiring managers turn away from candidates during the interview process is a lack of preparation. Candidates accustomed to interviewing are perceived as more genuine and better prepared.
While a potential employer appreciates someone who isn’t a job hopper, they also expect you to have a sound professional presence. If you appear nervous, stumble when giving answers and seem generally frazzled, you'll come across as unprepared. While you think it's just nerves, the hiring manager sees someone who is unprepared and dropping the ball. Basically, you're wasting their time and are just winging the interview. To overcome your nerves, try practicing.

  • Stand in the mirror and answer questions you believe may come up during your interview. Also, practice asking questions of the interviewer as well.
  • Tap a professional Career Coach for a mock interview  session.
  • Work with a mentor or past colleague to learn interviewing techniques, trends and anticipated questions based on market and industry trends.

Adjust Your Thinking

You will be rusty and nervous when reentering the job market. Don't let this impact your job search. Interviewing is not rocket science. It is simply a conversation with another person. That's. Don't over complicate the process.

  • Take time to write a targeted resume for each position you apply to. A well written targeted resume will make the interview process easier. The conversation will go more smoothly because the interviewer will better understand how your skills align with their needs and they will ask more specific questions about your background that you'll be comfortable answering.
  • Ask questions of the interviewer. If you engage and ask questions you'll help guide the conversation. You'll be less nervous when you feel you're controlling some piece of the process. Sitting and waiting for each question from the interviewer is painful. Instead, play a proactive part.
  • Don't approach your job search as a panic stricken candidate without a job and zero options. You have options. You have value. If you send a panicked message you'll turn off hiring managers. Be confident in your abilities.

When you've been out of the job market for an extended period of time,  you'll need help getting up to speed. Technology, hiring trends and hiring practices drive what employers are looking for from new hires. If you're rusty it will show. Take time to prepare, learn how to explain your time out of the market and why you're looking for a new opportunity. You'll be glad you did when you're able to confidently walk into an interview and land a job offer!

Are You Transitioning

Whether you've stayed with one employer for an extended period, or you've taken time off to raise a family or launch a business, getting back in the game requires preparation and strategy. A Career Coach can help you understand what hiring managers look for, how to transition into the job market successfully, how to effectively job search and how to relaunch your career. Lack of preparation will cost you money and perhaps some of your hair! Save your hair and land a higher salary with our coaching services! Get Started Now!

About The Author

Carter is our resident coffee junkie and a member of our sales and marketing resume team. Having spent most of his professional career in sales management, Carter leans on his professional expertise to create unique, accomplishment based resumes that speak to the demands of hiring managers and current market trends. If you’d like to simplify your career, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to get updates on careers, job search and resume best practices!