Leisure Freak, Retire Early and Often is all about being financially free to retire early and being able to pursue opportunities that are in line with your passions so that you may retire often. Below I offer some early retiree interviewing tips for anyone returning to work after retirement .
Retiring Early and Often includes clearing the hurdle of having your résumé selected. Followed by interviewing for those opportunities you have passion to pursue.
I interviewed many times when opportunities for positions I passionately wanted came my way. Some I didn’t get for a couple of reasons. After interviewing I didn’t think it was a good fit for me or they didn’t think it was a good fit.
Here is the deal with this Leisure Freak. My returning to work after retirement isn’t about my looking to beat my head against a brick wall for anyone. If it looks like they want more than I am willing to do or want to learn to do, then I don’t want to be there. I am not trying to force a square peg into a round hole. As an example. If the position requires 24X7 on-call then that isn’t for me. Been there, done that.
Here are 7 of my early retiree interviewing tips.
Tip #1: Be Picky
I always prepare by completing some research into the company. In my eyes I have vetted the position description enough to believe it is one that I would be passionate about. I will also do a search to see what their employees and ex-employees say about working there. I use the GlassDoor site (http://www.glassdoor.com) for that. You do have to take what you see there with an open mind. People say the craziest things when they are disgruntled or just promoted.
I use the interview to feel my way around the position and company a little more intimately. If I get a feeling it isn’t a good fit then it probably isn’t. I didn’t retire early to take another job I really don’t want. Being an early retiree, it’s nice to know that If accepting a position only to find out later it isn’t what is wanted or thought it be, I can quit at any time.
My lifestyle is financed through my retirement. I don’t have to be a financially desperate employee for anyone and endure any corporate or management nonsense. That said I do go in with an idea of what this opportunity is. But I will try to ask as early as possible in the interview about the job and what it is they are looking for in a candidate. Not only does this tell me that it is as I thought. But also allows me to answer their questions focused on what they are looking for.
If you wait until the end of the interview to ask you may be going for a job that isn’t what you thought it was. At the very least you may answer their questions outside of what they are looking for.
Tip #2: Be Completely Honest: Do not upsell your experience and skills or downplay them.
I described exactly what I did, what I know, and what I was looking for. Obviously they asked questions along these lines. I didn’t have to lay it all out there on my own.
I wanted to cross-over from Network Operations Engineering to try for an IT Systems Analyst opportunity. At one point when I was being interviewed I honestly told them I had no idea what anything they were asking me meant. I then explained that maybe we have a terminology difference. I then described what I did. All the things I thought they were looking for. Based on the position description that matched my background. I then asked if any of what I covered answered their questions.
I also told them that I was looking for a good fit and asked that they please be honest in their assessment of me while explaining that neither of us wants to beat our heads against the wall.
Success! I did get the position and it was the highest salary I have ever had. I learned a lot of new skills, met a lot of fantastic people, and scratched off a couple of my Bucket List “jobs I want to do” items.
Tip #3: Explain you have always sought after change and new experiences.
A problem for people over age 50 is the perception they are not flexible or open to change. Especially those who have spent a long time at a previous job. When I was asked why I had left my long time employer. I was able to state that I was looking for a change and new experiences . I explained that I am looking for a new opportunity.
It also helped to answer another question they had about something on my résumé. I had taken a lower paying Technician position after retiring as an engineer. It gave the same answer. I am interested in learning and experiencing new opportunities within my skill set, background, and passions.
Tip #4: Always Stay Positive.
Obviously I had left my previous employer because it wasn’t doing it for me anymore. It was no longer desired on many levels. That is a conversation reserved for fellow Leisure Freaks. I don’t have to have this job that I am applying for. Thus the pressure is off of me.
Why would there be any anger or frustration about interviewing for a new opportunity that I truly want to pursue? I use my positive attitude, enthusiasm and total honesty to show them I am happy and energized. Of course I am being honest but still withholding my Leisure Freak status.
Tip #5: How to overcome the “Overqualified” concern.
This is a common problem for anyone returning to work after retirement. Especially if you are pursuing a lower level or part-time position that fulfills your passions. There are a lot of professionals with advice about this. This is a subject of great interest so I also have a full page dedicated to it.
When returning to work after retirement for a stepped down job you may be tempted to dumb-down your achievements and experience. Don’t do it. Any decent company wants smart and skilled people working for them. If the “overqualified” comment comes up, be ready to explain how your experience and skills can contribute to their success.
My Experience Returning to Work After Retirement Overcoming Being Overqualified
I encountered this overqualified issue. Failing on the first position I was pursuing. But succeeding the second time it came up for another great opportunity. What I did was I told them retired as an engineer to seek semi-retirement in a position just like this. I am fully aware that I made much more in salary before. But I will be satisfied with an offer within this position’s salary range based on what I can bring to your company.
I did get the position. To be honest, stepping down to a lower technical position for the time I was there was the best experience I have had in a long time. Sure the pay was 1/3 of what I had previously made before I retired. But I was learning a new technology that I wanted to learn. The stress level and expectations were in line with the position title and salary.
I retired early and salary isn’t a primary motivation now. It was a win-win because I also brought to that position my years of engineering expertise. I was able to improve some of their operations. I love the freedom of being a Leisure Freak.
Tip #6: Be a great communicator.
Part of being a great communicator is being able to listen well. I know everyone has been in a meeting or on a conference call when some super confident go-getter just rattles off constantly. They try to show everyone how important and smart they think they are. I won’t be that person.
Listening is a huge part of communicating. I will toot my horn when appropriate but I use my vast experience to throttle back and impress them. I use both my communication and listening skills.
Tip #7: How to explain an employment gap.
If you were like me you took some time off to live the good early retired life before seeking a position. As I mention on my Early Retiree Resume Tips page, I list “ Career-Sabbatical” to explain any employment gap. It will be with the date range. I recommend honestly listing what you did during that time.
Example- Volunteer work, learned new skills, or even traveled and took the time find myself. Depending on what you did and listed under your Career-Sabbatical you may get questioned. I again recommend that you be perfectly honest. If you retired from a longtime position then say so. Say that you were looking for a change and new experiences.
Then talk about what you did and the skills you have as listed on your resume. Explain why you are now looking forward to a new opportunity.
What you want to do is make sure you have shown that the time you were off (the employment gap as they will call it) had purpose. It needs to be looked at as a positive thing. Don’t let them assume you just sat on your rear-end doing nothing productive.
If you were volunteering or donating your time it’s easy to explain the gap. Other things you may done might look suspect in an interviewers eyes without more explanation. For example. If what you did was play golf 5 days a week then say so and own it. Say that you are passionate about golf. That you took the time to improve you game, gain the opportunity to meet and network with many new people and recharge before taking on a new position. Honestly highlight the positive of whatever you list in your retirement time.
Be honest with yourself and your answers to interviewer’s questions. Interviewers usually pick up on body language and can tell when you are faking it.
If you truly have a positive outlook, it will show in your answers. Even the ones regarding your age, time-off, flexibility, and your willingness to learn new things.
You want to make sure people see you as an active and energized candidate. Not someone who just sat on their buttocks for several months and is now just bored. You don’t want to be seen as a person who is looking for a job, any job.
There are a lot of professionals that offer advice on the subject of interviewing. I just wanted to share what has worked for me.