How to Ace Your Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents

Interviewing can be intimidating for anyone, but it can be especially nerve-wracking for parents. Getting called for that first interview can stir up nerves, whether you’re currently working and pivoting to a new role or industry or find yourself venturing back into the workforce, returning to work after a hiatus. However, with the right preparation strategies, you can successfully shift back into career mode and shine in any type of interview.

The key is going in with confidence, understanding what employers really want to see, and showcasing your unique skills and experiences. In this interview guide we'll outline preparation strategies tailored to parent job seekers, covering everything from refreshing your skills to highlighting relevant experience to asking the right questions.

#1 Refresh Your Skills 

The one thing we can always count on is change, especially if you work in a fast-paced industry such as tech. Regardless of your field, prior to the interview make sure you take time to brush up on current technology, computer programs, industry trends or software related to your target area. Enroll in a skills course, research online tutorials, seek out a mentor, or tap connections still actively working.

Ensuring your skills are continually up-to-date is essential whether you’re returning to work after a pause or changing roles or industries. Keeping your finger on the pulse of innovation can boost your confidence and offer reassurance that you haven’t fallen behind. 

#2 Polish Your Online Presence 

Chances are hiring managers will look you up, so proactively Google yourself too. Review what information can be found, tidy up social media privacy settings if needed, and populate your LinkedIn profile. Craft an online image aligned with the professional credentials conveyed on your resume.

If you have a website or online portfolio, make sure it’s updated with your latest work and information. Remember, you only have one change to make a first impression, so make sure your online presence reflects the best of you.

#3 Practice Telling Your Story 

It is common for career gaps to come up in interviews when you return to the workforce as a parent. Prepare an explanation focused on developing highly-relevant transferable skills like communication, multitasking and time management. Highlight how those strengths will make you excel in the open position. 

#4 Line up Childcare

Remember the famous news segment where the children barged in on their dad’s TV interview? While it was adorably memorable, having your kids interrupt your virtual interview won’t exactly boost your professional image. Make sure you arrange for childcare during your interview if you need it to ensure you can relax and focus on showing off your skills. If you're interviewing through The Mom Project, you can take advantage of our partnership with UrbanSitter to get a $75 babysitting credit to use during your interview.

If you’re returning to work, make sure you consider what childcare in the future looks like. Interviewers may ask about your school/daycare arrangements should you return to work. Be prepared to address their practical concerns about schedule flexibility and commitment.

#5 Be Ready to Answer and Ask the Right Questions

Interviews are a two-way street. While you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to answer the most common interview questions, you’ll also want to come armed with thoughtful questions for your interviewer. You may consider asking about company values, work-life balance policies, diversity and inclusion or development opportunities. This signals your priority of finding an employer who supports working parents to thrive.

At the same time, you may not get the chance to ask all of your questions during the interview. That’s why researching the company you’re interviewing with is crucial to make sure they’re a good fit for you. We recommend three essential interview questions to ask at the end of a job interview.

#6 Trust Yourself

As you get ready for the big day, it’s important to remind yourself why you applied in the first place. You saw something in yourself that you thought made you the right person for the role. Take heart in the belief you had in yourself when you applied and carry that confidence with you to the interview.

Still, it’s natural to feel nervous about an interview, whether you’re currently working or re-entering employment after prioritizing parenthood. Easing anxiety before an interview can involve several things, from taking deep breaths to brushing up on research to eating a good breakfast.

On interview day, give yourself an extra boost of confidence by dressing professionally in an outfit you love. Remember to relax as much as possible, as your body language exhibits powerful nonverbal communication.

Have confidence highlighting your unique life-tested skills. The right organization will recognize the depth of talents you bring as a seasoned parent. With proper planning and leveraging your strengths, that pivotal interview sets the stage for an incredible next chapter. You’ve got this!

Want to take a deeper dive into preparing for your interview? Check out our Essential Interview Guide!

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