Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How Do I Video Interview… Candidates Reentering the Workforce?

Every candidate comes with their own set of unique interviewing challenges. That’s why we’re tackling video interview tips for different types of candidates with this how-to series. Today, we’ll be talking about how to use video interviews to connect with candidates reentering the workforce. Whether they’ve been out of the game six months or five years, candidates who are jumping back into the employment pool present their own interview challenges.

People leave the workforce for a variety of reasons, from maternity leave to active military duty and even unemployment. With the number of unemployed Americans hovering around 12.3 million at the moment, it’s likely your company will be interviewing some candidates who have been out of the employment game for an extended period of time. In fact, the average length of unemployment as of October 2012 was 40.2 weeks, while recent surveys have shown companies are likely to pass over a candidate who has been out of work for even a mere month.

This is bad news for the more than 5 million Americans who have been unemployed for at least six months or longer. It’s also bad news for your company, since you’re cutting out a large percentage of the available talent pool by ignoring candidates reentering the workforce, for whatever reason. Just because they’re not currently in a position doesn’t mean these candidates aren’t the talent your company needs to succeed.

Here are some of the things you should be looking for in the video interview when evaluating candidates reentering the workforce:

Find out why they left the workforce
There are plenty of reasons why a talented candidate might have left the workforce temporarily. With the tough economy, many workers found themselves facing pink slips and a brutal job market. Other workers might have left the workforce voluntarily to focus on raising their children. Some candidates might have left work to become the primary caregiver to a sick family member. There are nearly as many reasons to take a leave from employment as there are stars in the sky.

Don’t just assume you know the candidate’s entire backstory based on their video resume, paper resume or cover letter. Let the candidate tell you their story in the video interview to find out why they chose to leave the working world. While you won’t want to pry too deeply into a candidate’s personal matters, it’s important to get a little insight into the gap in their resume. This could be as simple as asking the candidate about the break in their work history or why they chose to take a break from their career.

Don’t assume a candidate is lazy or unmotivated because they’ve taken a detour from their career. Life throws curveballs at even the best workers, so find out the full story from the source before jumping to conclusions.

Evaluate what they want from their career
Just like in any other interview, it’s important to know what the candidate is looking for out of their career. Their aspirations might have changed dramatically since they left the workforce.

Just because the candidate’s last job title was CEO doesn’t mean he or she won’t now be happy as an office administrator. Before writing off a candidate as overqualified, make sure to ask them plenty of questions about what they want from their career in the video interview.

Perhaps they got tired of the rat race at their last position and they’re looking to cut down on their responsibilities. Or perhaps after an absence they’re now eager to jump back into their career path with both feet. Whatever their aspirations, it’s important you find out what they’re looking for in the video interview, so you can evaluate whether the candidate will be a good match for the position.

Make sure they’re up-to-date on technology and industry trends
Technology keeps marching forward, no matter how much we’d like it to stop for a few minutes so we can take a breather. Your industry has surely changed a lot in the last five months, let alone the last five years.

This is why it’s important to make sure your candidate is up-to-date with industry trends and technology. For instance in the HR and hiring space, you’d want someone up-to-date with social recruiting, using a video interview, and utilizing applicant tracking systems.

Know what industry trends and technology your ideal candidate will need to know to get the job done. Good candidates who have left the workforce for a breather will spend the time and put in the effort to learn what they’ve missed. This will show you their ability to learn new things and their passion for jumping back into the industry.

Just because a candidate has exited their career stage left doesn’t mean they can (or should) never return. In fact, these candidates can become the superstars your company needs to thrive in the competitive marketplace. Just make sure you know their aspirations, their knowledge, and their story in the video interview.

What do you ask candidates reentering the workforce in the video interview? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by CarbonNYC

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).