After 2 years of a career break to raise my son, I had my first job interview. It was an over the phone interview as the recruiter was in another country.
For someone who has had a successful business career and someone who has done recruitment excessively throughout her career, I was nervous like I’ve never been before.
Where did my former confidence go? Where was that ‘I can do it!’ attitude suddenly hiding?
Well, Just like many parents, who take a career break to stay at home and look after their child, I’ve suffered a natural drop in my confidence as well as a phenomenon known as ‘Mommy’ brain’.
Professional self vs Mommy self
Parenthood can be overwhelming. You give yourself entirely to your baby, often leaving your former self behind, focusing only on the new – ‘parent’ you.
Sooner or later many of us, depending on the personal circumstance, have to take the first step and return into the world of employment. Whether it’s full time, part time, freelance or working from home scenarios, return to the workplace can be a challenging and anxious experience.
This interview opportunity came unexpectedly. I was just starting to think of a way to seek a suitable for me employment. My eighteen months’ old son suffers from a severe separation anxiety and my husband and I have decided that he wasn’t ready for a nursery, and other childcare alternatives were not for us either. Therefore, If I was to look for an employment, it had to be something I could work from home so that I could look after my son.
I had so many doubts, that all my attempts to start searching for a job led to me feeling down and anxious. I feared that no one would want to give me a chance and that I wouldn’t be able to meet the requirements and expectations of the potential recruiters. My inner doubts and fears were so overwhelming that they’ve overshadowed my former professional confidence and self-belief.
What to do when Opportunity knocks on the door?
As we all know opportunities don’t happen a lot, so I knew that I had to give this interview my best attempt. Even if I wasn’t going to do well, I had to at least try and do my best.
I had an evening to prepare for this interview. This was after 2 years of no exposure to the business environment and a demanding toddler hanging on me like a baby possum. It seemed like my son was deliberately difficult and challenged the simplest of things leaving me even further anxious and frustrated.
In reality, it wasn’t my son. It was me and the fear of failing as a returning to work mum. I feared to fail to convince my interviewer that I had indeed achieved all those things listed on my resume. Most importantly, I feared to embarrass not only myself and all other moms going back to the workplace. I didn’t want anyone to think that a new mom couldn’t do it.
Mummy brain is a peculiar thing phenomenon. It strikes when you least expect it. It has a supernatural power to throw you off the thought chain you were confidently speaking of, leaving you in a moment or two of a complete limbo.
I was pleasantly surprised that the recruiter was kind and understanding of my situation (I have notified them that I was unable to find a childcare in advance, giving the allowed meeting time, as I worried that my one and a half years old boy would be noisy during the interview). They made me feel calm and comfortable, brushing away my initial worries. In addition, they showed understanding and even related to my parenting experience, by sharing their own parenting story.
I was preparing for this interview all night, torn between trying to summarise my business portfolio and thinking of creative ways to keep my son occupied to keep the noise to a minimum.
How to Keep the child busy
I was up very early on the day of my interview, as I had to get myself ready and most importantly set the scene of distractions for my son.
I had prepared four boxes of distractions for my son. I filled them with all sorts of new and exciting goodies, including mixing bowls and spatulas (my boy loves to play with kitchen bits) as well as a couple of usually not allowed things, such as some of my makeup brushes, which he Loves. I decided that just for that one hour, everything was allowed, as long as it was safe.
I had to wait until the very last minute before I gave out the goodies I’ve prepared to make sure that my son was occupied for the most part of the interview.
Five minutes before the interview I set him a nice space on a comfy blanket and started my plan of distraction with my laptop. There’s nothing more exciting for my child than to play with the login page on my laptop. He just loves the sound the laptop makes each time he presses the buttons which laptop recognises as a wrong password. So my little hacker was very happy to see that the laptop, which would usually be kept somewhere he couldn’t reach, has miraculously appeared in front of him.
Whilst he was focused on the laptop, I set three entertainment boxes behind him, leaving the forth still hidden.
The interview began and my former business-self returned. I felt like I was back in the meeting room delivering a strategy proposal. I quickly realised just how much I’ve learned about life and the environment outside the business, over the past two years. I could finally see and appreciate just how much motherhood has helped me to improve my interpersonal and communication skills, as well as other soft skills.
I wasn’t the professional I was 2 years ago, I was a lot more than that! I was the professional as well as a new mother! Together, it’s a powerful combination!
Motherhood has taught me to be passionate and open about things that matter to me. Therefore, I didn’t hold back when I pitched my professional statement and explained my vision for the project discussed. I knew that I had the core skills and the experience to bring value to this project, but I could finally see that I also had a personality and unique to my personality traits to complement my skills set. Thanks to Motherhood, I grew to be a lot more charismatic. I stopped holding back or brushing away my sense of humour and my wit because I stopped thinking about what would someone else think of me. Motherhood has taught me to pay no attention to judgemental people and to stay true to who I am.
This has helped me to evolve into a better and stronger professional until this interview I didn’t know I could be.
In addition, I was lucky to have a great professional as well as a very pleasant individual interviewing me. I was given an opportunity to share my professional story with a personal touch.
All that went wrong
Yes, I talked a little too much at times. That was due to the excitement of the opportunity!
Yes, I had a few moments of ‘mommy brain’ and moments where I’d lose track of my thoughts (every time I saw my son on a mission of chaos). I’d stop, apologise and start again, making sure I said everything I saw valuable and important to mention.
Yes, my son had moments of cry, moan, and uncontrollable noise, but my distractions worked and it wasn’t too bad!
Yes, my child climbed on me several times and I looked like a mama kangaroo, but the chocolate cookies (hidden until the worse scenario and that was exactly that) saved me from being the tower for King Kong to climb.
Yes, I believe I walked a couple of miles around our flat. I had to walk around as sitting in one place made me an easy target for my highly imaginative kid.
Yes, I was out of breath at one point during the interview; as I had to chase my son to stop him from eating a crayon.
Yes, my child drew all over the notepad I had at hand to make interview notes and even more so, he drew all over my legs!!!!!
Yes, it was all that and so much more but Yes I Did It!!!! No, we did it! Me and my boy! Who even said Bye Bye to the interviewer, when I was saying my goodbyes in the end.
I did it
It was the most accelerating and surreal hour in my business career! I did it! I handled the interview, I handled my son and my own self and made it possible!
A couple of days later I found out that I was Successful! I have been offered my first content writing project and I couldn’t be more excited. I now write articles on 22skillsblog, with helpful tips and information about recruitment and employment. 22skiills are modern recruiters whose main purpose is to celebrate fair recruitment. They believe that our skills, abilities, experience and unique to our individual personalities traits should be the most valuable asset that we possess from an employment perspective. That should be at the forefront of the employer’s decision making, away from prejudgments based on misconceptions and perceived stereotypes. I hope you find my 22skills articles enjoyable and helpful.
I’m proud to be one of many success stories of what 22skills stand for, as they’ve given me a chance based on my skills and personality, without even meeting me in person.
You Can do it!
So, whatever it is that you are thinking of doing when it comes to your career or professional life, my advice to you is Go for it!!!! Don’t let anything or anyone, including your inner-self, hold you back! It is a scary step to make but it’s so worth it.
Most importantly, I’d rather try and fail than don’t try and be left with nothing but regret.
The key to this was one scared to death cat, whose coat and tail was pulled in all possible and impossible directions (all praise to CoCo our poor pet cat Who is a trooper), one half chewed crayon, some impressive pencil ‘art’ all over my legs, hyped on chocolate cookies little boy, who (as I later found out) somehow managed to eat a bit of candle wax…and one covered in chocolate and pen, proud of her achievement mama!