Returning to work after a career break to bring up children can be extremely stressful, and if you are not returning to a former employer, the imminent interview can be nerve-wracking.
Worrying about an interview is understandable, so here are some tips to help you prepare and help you feel as positive and confident as you can be:
Tip 1 - Research first
Research the company, look at the company website, annual reports, Companies House and social media to find out as much information as you can about the company. Talk to people in your network in person or online using LinkedIn to see if anyone has anything to share that will help you feel fully informed. Look up the interviewer(s) on LinkedIn to see if this gives you any insight into their career journey within the company and previously. As part of your research, think about any questions you want to ask as part of the interview and brush up on any technical information or key changes that have happened in the profession during your absence.
Tip 2 - Plan ahead
Make sure you understand the format of the interview and how long it will be so you can plan how you will get there and think about parking, public transport and of course planning any childcare you need. If you don't know the area you may want to do a trial run to assess how you get there and check out parking and whether you need change to park. Think about and plan what you wear that makes you feel confident, this may include getting a haircut, etc. so you feel at your best. Plan ahead about how you will make the role work with any childcare commitments. If you are looking for flexible working options, be upfront and ask about it during the interview by asking what the company's approach is - more organisations are seeing the benefit of flexible working for everyone so don't be afraid to ask what is possible and be clear on what you are looking for.
Tip 3 - Practice and rehearse
Spend time practicing some questions and answers. Use the job description and role profile to anticipate what questions you might be asked at the interview and either practice answering these by saying them aloud to yourself or ask someone to role-play them with you. Think about competency-based questions like ‘Tell me about a time when…' or ‘Give me an example of…' but also about how you will answer questions about why you are a good fit for the role and why you are interested in the opportunity. You may feel more uncomfortable with these types of questions but practice will help you feel more confident about how to pitch your answer.
Tip 4 - Gather your information
Gather your information for the interview, the job description, your CV and your research along with the details of the interview, interviewers and contact details. You may also want to take any references or reviews with you as well. Take these in a folder so you have them to hand and don't be afraid to check your notes when asked if you have any questions.
Tip 5 - Build your confidence
Remind yourself of your career achievements and reassure yourself of your skills, experience, knowledge and capability. Be prepared to talk about your career break if they ask about it.
If you feel you need more career support or interview advice, you can contact CABA and ask about one to one career coaching support
Written by: Meg Burton
Meg has over 15 years' extensive experience of delivering and facilitating development training in corporate organisations working with leaders and managers at all levels in a wide range of businesses. Meg is a qualified learning and development professional, qualified MBTI practitioner and Executive Coach. Meg has a warm enthusiastic approach, a passion for learning and a desire to make a difference to individuals.
How CABA can help
Everything we do at CABA is underpinned by our commitment to provide lifelong support to past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, past and present ICAEW staff and their close families. All of our services are free, impartial and strictly confidential.