“Is Friday good for you?”
“Yes, or if you would like to schedule for a further date as I might be contagious, I understand. ”
“So, Friday at 11am is good?”
I answered the phone Wednesday with my voice going in and out and agreed to a job interview that following Friday.
This is only the second interview since I’ve had my baby and typically, they don’t go so well for me. I get nervous, I get tongue tied; I lose my confidence, sweat and look like I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Since having my son I’ve grown a sense of security in my abilities, my mind and how I want to develop professionally.
Here are some tips for your post-baby interviews.
- If you get nervous, take a breath before you respond. I lost my voice, but it allowed me time to think about my responses because I didn’t have the energy to talk unnecessarily. (Until we segued into a conversation about one of my interviewers getting a camera, so I HAD to tell her my thoughts. :’)) Besides that, my answers were succinct and responded to their questions.
- Maintain eye contact. Because I was so focused on my voice, I acted on the reminder to look at each interviewer in the eye during my responses even if I drifted off for a few seconds.
- Mention your baby strategically, wait for a cue. When I mention my little one after saying: ‘I only worked for 2 weeks because I couldn’t find childcare’ RED FLAG. it makes the interviewer question whether I’m reliable or if they can depend on me to work a full 40-hour week. I decreased my prospects by looking unstable. — on the other hand if you incorporate your baby into an answer like: ‘I’m looking for a stable long term position in a company that I can grow with because of my new addition.’ Showing that you are ready to commit to a company/industry because of your baby will fare much better.
- Know your resume. It is a welcome respite because you know what to expect and to direct them towards. You can easily elaborate on your likes and skills without running around in circles and open up conversations over what you are capable of that isn’t fully explained on your resume.
- Be honest about your needs so there aren’t miscommunications once you do begin working. Highlight that you DO have childcare under control. You are or are not flexible in your work schedules. (Can you stay late? Can you come in 9am one day and 10am the next and 8am another?) Do you have to go to doctor appointments every month? Do you have child support court coming up? Be up front, so that they aren’t blind sided once they hire you and you’re still in the running for a pay raise at the end of your familiarization period.
- Ask questions. ‘How often do you do performance reviews and what do you look for?’ Ask something about the job position that they’ve mentioned. Asking questions shows that you listened, are able to synthesize and are interested in their company. Depending on what you ask, you are hinting towards your priorities, work ethic and personality.
- (optional, but important) ‘Do you have a room I can pump in?’ I haven’t mentioned it in interviews, but at my first job post-baby I mentioned it during my first day and they were really REALLY nice about it. It’s a dice roll, it shows that you come prepared and that you have your priorities, but you are a candidate that needs more accommodation than the newly graduated frat boy in the lobby. BUT YPU HAVE RIGHTS. I will create a post on how to pump at work, next!
Interviewing post baby is nerve wracking and seems like it would be the same, but there are more events that pop up now that you are a parent. Especially if you are a single parent and you have to tote your little one to and from the doctors, sitters, grocery stores and home, etc. I’m really lucky to have my son’s grandparents on-call and a very supportive network, but I know this is not the case for everyone. If you have any tips that you would like to add to help other mamas getting back into the workforce, please comment!
Updated Feb. 11 , 1145pm to include Department of Labor fact sheet on break time requirements for nursing mothers.