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How to prepare for an interview when your last one was years ago

By Maureen Lynch Director of Hays Ireland

Interviewing for a new job can feel intimidating, especially if you’ve been with your current employer for ten, fifteen or even twenty years.

Now that you’ve decided it’s time for a change, how should you approach an interview? Both you and your potential employer might have reservations. While there are many aspects of staying in a job for decades an employer will find appealing – such as loyalty and years of great experience – they might also be concerned that you might find it hard to adapt quickly to a new role and work culture.

In turn, you may also have your own doubts about getting in the interview game, luckily there are a few steps you can take to ensure you succeed.

1. Have confidence about yourself

It’s normal to have doubts when interviewing after a long time, but how are you going to convince a potential employer if you’ve not convinced yourself? If you prepare yourself in advance you will grow your confidence and put yourself in the best possible position.

Before the interview, practise answering some common interview questions, either out loud in front of a mirror, or with other people. It can be difficult getting used to talking yourself up again, but practising smiling, presenting and body language will help. Practice makes perfect, and if you act confident you’ll feel more confident.

2. Show you’re the expert

During the interview remember to showcase how you progressed in your career, emphasise how your experience has made you well versed and knowledgeable. It’s important in any interview to show you’re passionate about your job. Be specific and mention that you have kept up to date, either through webinars, training courses or reading industry publications. This shows the interviewer that you have a wealth of knowledge and have also kept up with the industry to maintain your expert status.

3. Relationship building

Your interviewer might be concerned about your ability to build new relationships with your potential colleagues or a new cohort of clients.

Even though you have worked with some of the same people for a long time, you will undoubtedly have had to work with new people during your career. Maybe you have trained new starters, worked alongside consultancies or gone to networking events.

Have some examples of the above ready in your mind so you are prepared for any specific questions. Showcase how you have built up a rapport with other people over a short period of time and how this has benefited your work.

4. Emphasise on why you want a change

The fact that you’ve stayed loyal to your previous employer will reflect well on you, however, it can also suggest that you’re adverse to change. This is why it is important to emphasise, you’re ready for a new start. Do not talk negatively about your previous employer, but rather about why you are interested in this specific job and company. If they ask you why you want to leave your current role, focus on the changes you are excited about.

In the end, your years of experience should work in your favour, especially if you play your cards right. The trick is to get back into practice, quash any reservations that the interviewer has in relation to your ambition and adaptability, and gear your answers around proving your expertise, interpersonal skills and enthusiasm for a new and exciting opportunity.

To find out more, or to discuss your employment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Maureen joined Hays in 2000 where she specialised in Senior Accounting and Finance recruitment. With over 17 years’ experience, Maureen is the Director for Cork, Limerick and Galway along with over overseeing the Banking and Construction & Property operations in Cork. She also provides training expertise in the area of candidate screening and interviewing.

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