Invited back to interview for a different position...?
October 16, 2014 6:38 PM   Subscribe

I recently had a job interview at a perfect-for-my-current-circumstances employer. I thought the interview was okay but I could've done better. Didn't hear a peep for two weeks. I received an email this Tuesday asking if I could come in this Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to interview for a different and higher-paying position. I'm looking for some advice on how to handle interview #2 tomorrow. Confusion & mitigating circumstances inside!

I've been off the ol' career track for 2 years now, due to an extended period of Bad Things which is now behind me. I'm beginning to look for jobs again, and applied for this potentially awesome job. This employer hits all of my requirements for non-evil-employment (per my last job-related question) and I would be pleased to work for them.

They invited me in for an interview, and although it went well enough, I was a little rusty interviewing-skills-wise. I fumbled a bit on two important questions, and didn't think I "shone" much wits-wise, although that could be chalked up to interview-nerves. I brought a nicely representative portfolio of my work, had a few good stories to tell, and I have a strong background with some relatively unique areas of expertise. I had a sense that I connected well with the interview team on a personal level. (It was enjoyable as far as an interview can be! I honestly liked all of them.)

I've got some awkward spots on my resume and some negativity at a previous employer because of how I handled the situation when the period of Bad Things had just started. So, I followed up my interview with a thank-you email and a very "delicately" worded explanation of the events w/o going into excessive detail. I was up-front that if they contacted Most Recent Employer that I might not get a good reference, but it was definitely a situational thing. I made clear that I knew I had made some mistakes and I took full responsibility for them. I emphasized my education, experience, and references and hoped that they would look at the big picture. I received a polite reply from the HR manager and no reply whatsoever from the other two people I interviewed with, and then I heard nothing about the position after that for two weeks. I was bummed at not getting a response, but just figured I'd move on, until this week!

I assume that my background check cleared, although they haven't called my references yet. This position I've been invited back to interview for isn't even posted on their website or anywhere else yet. The HR person knows my relevant info relating to the background investigation stuff, so I feel like I've got that covered.

They contacted me Tuesday and wanted to know if I was available to interview this week for it. (?!) The HR manager did say that they filled the original position with a different candidate. I think I'll be interviewing with a different department manager vs. the last time. The manager for the first interview did seem to be very impressed with my skill set and I am assuming that's what's led to this 2nd interview. I'd like to do well in this 2nd interview, because they have a great benefits package, and it would be interesting, challenging work. It'd definitely help me to both "rehabilitate" as well as move my career up a notch, and I could see myself happily working there for quite a long time.

I've never been in this type of situation before with an employer. Is this last-minute business a bit odd, or should I take it as an encouraging sign? Should I consider interview #2 as "an extension of interview #1" or strictly as a separate thing? Any suggestions for handling the discussion of my previous work history?

posted by cardinality to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They think a lot more of you than you do of yourself, it seems. I'd say treat this as a new interview, and do basically what you did in the first one.

You're going to beanplate this into a nervous mess in the interview. Stop being sorry for so many things, and act like this is something all of you are trying to decide together whether it's something you'd both enjoy and have the appropriate skills to contribute.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:51 PM on October 16, 2014 [13 favorites]

Encouraging sign! It sounds like they liked you and thought you were a good candidate to work there, but didn't think you were exactly right for the first position.

Since the new position isn't on the website yet, can you ask the HR person or someone for more info about the new position? It would be better to have a chance to get familiar with it before walking into the interview, so you can prepare some thoughts about how your experience relates to it, etc.

Sounds like you handled the previous work history thing very well; just follow that same model again. If it comes up say what you said in your note.

Congrats, this is very promising!
posted by aka burlap at 6:52 PM on October 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: And don't worry about the last-minute thing. There are all kinds of benign possible explanations for that timeline. Just go and present yourself honestly and confidently, and explore whether the new position is the right fit. You had an honest connection with them the first time, just do the same thing again!
posted by aka burlap at 6:55 PM on October 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Companies hold interviews because they have a problem they need to solve. They lack the people they need to make that a reality. When you walk into that interview, know that they want you to be successful. They want you to be the one they hire so they can move on and get going, so they are inherently rooting for any candidate to show them what they need. Walk in, meet them in the middle, and show them how you can help them solve whatever problem they've got. This is the universe offering you the opportunity to see just how amazing you didn't realize you were. Even if you don't get the job, know that you're moving forward in new ways.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:03 PM on October 16, 2014 [15 favorites]

Best answer: Just wanted to link to this ted talk on body language. In brief, standing like Wonder Woman for two minutes before a stressful event can lower your cortisol and raise your testosterone - so less stress and more of whatever testosterone does.

I used it before a big interview which included a presentation to a large group, and I really think it helped.

And good luck!
posted by pennypiper at 8:11 PM on October 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

PS: the advice I gave above comes from actress Natalie Dormer who spoke of how having the attitude that potential employers (or in her case, directors) want you to be the right one really makes a difference in your morale and mentality going in to an interview. She's got a lot of good career advice actually, so if you give her a look up you might find other motivational messages to support you. Good luck on your next interview :)
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:19 PM on October 16, 2014

Best answer: How do you handle it? You glide elegantly into the interview, thinking to yourself "how wonderful to meet interviewers with such good taste and discernment" and you go in there and do the interview AS Natalie Dormer.

If the issue comes up you handle it like you did in your note. Try not to add more to that explanation unless they insist on it.
posted by tel3path at 1:09 AM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I mostly agree with aka burlap, although I'd point out that they may have thought you were a good fit for the firt position, but just for whatever reason preferred a different candidate (who may have been an even better fit, if you will).

But there's no question that having them reach out to you about an open position is an excellently good sign. They're saying that they see a possible role for you in the organization and they want you to consider it. Go forth and be awesome, and best of luck.
posted by Gelatin at 5:11 AM on October 17, 2014

Best answer: Accept gladly and focus on all the positive aspects of your experiences. Don't bring up negative stuff unless you're specifically asked about it. You've covered it with HR, now stop poking at it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:13 AM on October 17, 2014

It means they thought well enough of you that they are looking to fit you in to the company by means of a different (higher-paying) position that they probably think is a better fit to your skill set. This is very good news!

Find a time this week that you can make the interview, and go in to the interview confident that they already like you.
posted by tckma at 9:48 AM on October 17, 2014

Response by poster: Hey all, thanks for the excellent advice! I watched the TED talk and with the cheering-section here, it made the difference for me, I think. I used the posture tips from the video during my interview and it helped with feeling less nervous. I met with them yesterday afternoon.

I thought I'd be interviewing again with two or three people...and it turned into three people, plus the vice president and the executive director...*gulp* I know that means Srs Bsns so I put on my game-face and really tried my best. My interior Aspie social anxiety just about did me in, but I managed it and I feel fairly confident that they will offer me the position. (They asked when I could start, etc.)

It is wildly out of my normal reach and not something I would have naturally felt qualified for, but I satisfy maybe 65% of their needs. (Got to thinking afterward about the stats on how men vs. women apply for jobs...I definitely fall into the statistic of only applying for jobs that I feel 100% confident that I can do.) To borrow a phrase, I am lacking some of the actual meat of the job, but have an abundance of all sizes of potatoes, and I got the impression that's an area they need to fill. So I'm hoping they'll be willing to send me for training or otherwise find a way to work around the part I'm less skilled in. I could self-train in the areas where I'm weak if I hit it hard for the first few months, so if they'd be willing to work with me a little, I think it'd be a good fit.

It's an incredible opportunity and I'm really honored that they brought me in to interview. The vice president commented, "There's so much room for growth and you would always be learning; if you truly applied yourself you could become an expert in your field." Wow!

In any event, it was a great learning experience that really opened my eyes to some career possibilities, and taught me that even if I don't get this job, I think I have it in me now to do the kind of work that will advance my career. If they end up not offering me the position, I'm going to attempt to network with one or two of the people I interviewed with and see if they'd be open to at least adding me as a LinkedIn contact. Is that acceptable these days?

I am grateful to everyone who commented. Thanks for the support.
posted by cardinality at 12:53 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm pleased to share that I've accepted their job offer today! Thanks again for the help, all. Hurrah for team Mefi! :)
posted by cardinality at 9:40 AM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

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