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Tips for Women Executives Returning To the Job Market

One often hears of the woman executive who retires for several years while she has babies and raises her family. Then, when her children are well-grown she returns to the executive job market, only to have a rude awakening. Her executive skills, which have not been used for many years, are rusty. Women frequently become quite frustrated when they first attempt to return to the business arena-and often become disillusioned.

Most of the frustration could be eliminated by simply planning ahead for your return. As an example, if you were a computer programmer several years ago, you will not be trained in what is now being referred to as "the state of the art." Instead of returning to the job market head on-having not even seen a computer for over a decade-go to school first. Sharpen your skills, and then look for a job. You must use empathy!

As an example, you may have a slightly annoying habit of not looking at whoever you are talking to. Poor eye contact is just a poor habit. If you are using an intermediary, then take full advantage of his position and skills. Ask him if there is anything you can do to enhance your chances for being selected. Find out what the intermediaries know about the employer before your first inter-view.

After an Interview

After your first interview, contact your recruiter or counselor and find out how you really did. Sometimes they will frankly tell you, while in other instances they will not. A candid feedback from an intermediary can be a tremendous help. Compare the intermediary to the reviewer of the play. While he is not actually at the play, he hopefully receives enough feedback to help you survive the second and third acts with "rave reviews." You may have thought you came across one way, when you really did not. Also, do not lose sight of the fact that both the executive recruiter and the employment counselor are typically paid by the company. They may not be in a position to be completely candid with you. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. At least you can receive some feedback and make your own judgment.

When the interview is winding down, the employer may state that he would like to invite you back-for a second set of interviews with some of the other executives. This means that you have passed the first round, and gave a good performance.

Patterned Stress Interviews

Since we are discussing returning back to jobs, we may as well mention the patterned stress interview. This is theatrics at its finest. Fortunately, not too many employers use this interviewing technique. Some industrial psychologists may use it periodically, but fortunately the candidate is a little better prepared for such "games" when they are played by psychologists.

The patterned stress interview is simply the interviewer asking a series of questions of the candidate which are aimed to "make his blood boil." They are used, supposedly, to see how much pressure or harassment he can take before he loses his composure.

Patterned stress interviews should only be administered by those who have been specifically trained to do so. When amateurs attempt to conduct these types of interviews they will typically make themselves look silly in the eyes of the candidate. They may even turn-off an otherwise interested candidate. It would not be difficult to lose interest in a company when its representative badgers away at you for an hour with a bunch of irrelevant and irritating questions.

There is nothing wrong with any interviewer asking sensitive questions of a candidate which might give some meaningful clues in evaluating him. In order to find out about a candidate's ambitions, goals, ethics, loyalty, etc., specific questions must be asked. These questions can easily be directed and interpreted in a positive manner.
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