So you landed an interview! What an exciting opportunity! You focused on the type of industry you’d be interested in working in. You met with your sponsor or another trusted friend and spoke about the advantages of working in this field of work. You found that the type of hours of operation would work well with your recovery schedule, allowing you to continue participating in your weekly/daily meetings and stay on your path to sobriety. Then after compiling your related skills and past experience, you were able to compose a personal and professional resume that caught the eye of a hiring manager!
You’ve overcome your years of addiction. You’ve completed treatment and began working the steps in your local anonymous group and you’re starting to feel more in control of your own destiny. With your grip tightening around your future, you’ve become aggressive on your path to victory and its time to seal the deal. And nervousness takes hold, doubt begins to creep in and the fear can seem overwhelming.
We can do this, we can figure this out. Breathe, you are so much stronger than you think. Embrace the stress, it is your motivation to take action, remain focused and look forward into an intriguing possibility. If it begins to feel too overwhelming, try to use some of your coping mechanisms, like repeating a word or phrase out loud or internally. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the mantra.
Now you’re wondering if you should be completely honest about your past. Maybe you’re wondering if that will help explain some of the gaps in your employment or answer their question as to what industry you’re coming from. Choosing to open up and reveal what you’ve been through could help combat preexisting ideas people may hold about what it means to struggle with substance abuse. This is an inspiration and for some, can help someone view addiction as a disease instead of a moral failing. It’s not necessarily a “Yes” or “No” scenario. There are several times at which you could address your recovery. You have the option to disclose your experiences in a cover letter or application, open up during an interview, wait until after you’ve been hired, or opt against sharing entirely. Still, you must choose what’s best for you. Some recommend not disclosing that information until after being hired during an appropriate time, Unfortunately, discussing your path to recovery may elicit negative reactions from people who don’t understand what you’ve been through. Choosing to bring it up either before or during an interview leaves you vulnerable to judgment and ultimately could cost you a job offer.
During the interview, remember these helpful hints:
- Research your potential employer: What do they do? What are they well known for in the industry? How long have the been in business? Having a heads up on their day to day functions makes you look interested and informed.
- Prep yourself: Research common interview questions, Can you tell me a little about yourself? How did you hear about us? Why do you want this job? Why should we hire you? Rehearse your answers in front of a friend or family member and get some feedback before the big day. This will help you avoid stammering and rambling on during the interview.
- Stay Positive: Chemical dependency may have left your self esteem in pieces, which can make it hard to sell yourself during an interview. But when you stop focusing on the negative, you can have an easy list of your positive attributes. You know how to complete tasks, you completed treatment! You know how to follow directions, you use your steps on a daily basis! There’s so much more to you than your addictions!
- We live in a digital world: Now this may not be so much interview related but it could be. With the real world dealing with the internet on a daily basis, you need to be realistic as to the type of snooping that can happen from future employers. Your social media presence can be found by a simple search of your name, and if you are not comfortable presenting yourself in the same light that your social media posts have, it may be best to strengthen your privacy settings or editing things you have posted. This is actually a pretty important step to finding work, as you can be disqualified from a job just from something an employer has seen.
- Eye Contact: This can be intimidating, but keeping eye contact with your interviewer shows that you are confident, trust worthy and honest. Looking away or down shows self confidence issues. They are looking to hire someone confident in their abilities!
- Do you have any questions?: Yes, you do! You want to know your chances of being hired! But that isn’t a very nice way to say it, is it? When the interview is coming to a close, sometimes they will ask you if you have any questions. This is one of my favorite opportunities to blow their mind. Ask them if there is any reason why they wouldn’t hire you? They then have to evaluate the interview in that moment, and give you reasons for their choice. It gives you an idea where you stand and it shows them that you are very interested. It can be scary the first time you ask, but I promise, once you catch them off guard and they don’t have an immediate negative reaction to your answer, you will see how well your interview went!
The interview is easily the scariest part of the process, but it is definitive. After the interview comes the waiting game. Some employers will take the time to call you and thank you for your time, some will write you an email or a letter to let you know they’ve gone in another direction. Always be graceful with their decision and tell them good luck! It shows a sportsman like attitude and if it doesn’t work out with their first choice, you have shown dignity in the face of a difficult decision.