Going to a job interview can be a stressful experience no matter where you are in your career. Women reentering the workforce after raising children full time often find themselves in a difficult position having to explain career gaps and how their recent experiences make them a qualified candidate.
It’s normal to have some apprehension, but it’s important to remember that your experiences as a parent can be invaluable in a workplace. Own your talents and face interview questions with confidence, knowing you have much to offer.
Start by brainstorming answers to a commonly asked interview question: Tell me about yourself.
Describe Skills From Previous Work
It’s natural to bring up your past jobs and how they shaped you into the professional you are today. Whether your last job was two years ago or 20 years ago, talk about the skills, experiences, and results you gained during your previous work.
Don’t focus on how long ago you gained that experience. Chances are, the interviewer already has a copy of your resume and can see when and where you worked. Instead, describe how that work history has made you an ideal candidate for this current role.
There is no time limit on the value of experiences gained, particularly in fields relating to providing customer service, working in a team-oriented environment, or learning to be thrifty and budget conscious.
Share Actions and Results From Recent Situations
When preparing for an interview, a common piece of advice is to prepare answers using the Situation, Task, Action, and Result format, also known as STAR. Rather than listing off your skills, giving a STAR answer allows you to show how you applied those skills in action.
If you don’t have recent work experience, use an example from everyday life. For instance, if you and your family recently bought a new home in today’s competitive market, your foray into homeownership is filled with examples of how you could contribute in your new role. That’s a great way to answer “tell me about yourself.”
Walk the interviewer through the actions you took, such as using multiple home listing services like Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia to find the right house. Or maybe you secured a home buyer rebate to save your family money on the purchase. This can highlight your organizational skills, resourcefulness, and ability to use the latest technology to accomplish a task.
Talk About Your Network and Memberships
There’s a saying that your network is your net worth, and that’s particularly true when it comes to the workforce. Don’t hesitate to talk about the relationships you’ve built and how they can support your career.
Are you a member of any professional organizations, such as an association for copywriters or advertisers? In your interview, talk about how you have benefited from membership in those organizations, such as building relationships with freelancers and investors. You can also mention the educational benefits you’ve received through workshops and lectures.
Don’t forget to talk about the networks you have created as a parent. That might include playing an active role in a parent-teacher organization, which can also provide an opening to talk more about projects you’ve executed and the results you’ve achieved. At the same time, you can show that you have a large village supporting you as you reenter the workforce.
Talk About Your Hobbies and Interests
Your answer doesn’t have to be all about work. In fact, when answering the question “tell me about yourself,” people want to know about YOU! By sharing information about your hobbies and special interests, you can show prospective employers a side of yourself that will make you stand out in comparison to other candidates.
Many hobbies also have practical job applications. For example, if you perform in a local music group, you can showcase your creativity and ability to collaborate with others toward a common goal. Don’t forget to bring your personality to the “tell me about yourself” question.
Use Your Family as an Example of Your Values
Don’t hesitate to talk about your family and children. As a parent, the lessons you instill in the next generation reflect your values. This information can show a potential employer the kind of person you are and how you might fit in with company culture if you’re offered the job.
Talk about the chores your children do to make money as a kid while learning the value of hard work. If you’ve helped your kids with a lemonade stand, walk the interviewer through the process of how your family turned an idea into reality, as well as the results of your efforts.
By sharing your experiences as a parent, you may also become more memorable and relatable.
Above all, when answering questions about yourself in an interview, be confident. The best way to feel confident in an interview is to prepare in advance.
Whether the interview is in person or by phone, practice answers to commonly asked questions. Practice your answers standing in front of a mirror. That not only helps you imagine yourself looking strong and confident in front of an interviewer, but it can also help you work out nerves by maintaining eye contact and positive body language.
When answering the question “tell me about yourself,” don’t underestimate the value of striking a power pose or giving yourself a pep talk in the car or mirror before your interview begins.
By: Alyssa Evans