For many women the side-effects of the menopause are enough to make them take a break from their career, or retire completely.
Symptoms such as chronic fatigue, memory lapses, hot flushes, mood swings and anxiety can make the workplace unbearable for menopausal women, and leave them feeling unable to do their job.
In her previous career, menopause expert and founder of Esteem – No Pause, Jane Hallam was a senior manager leading operational activities in several higher education institutions, managing teams of up to 100 staff. Part of this role included the recruitment, development and management of staff, meaning Jane chaired many interview panels throughout her career.
Now Jane is using her previous career experience and her current knowledge and understanding of the challenges faced by menopausal women to give advice and guidance on interviews if women are deciding to get back into work or move roles.
Talking about the impact on work and careers, Jane, said: “An interview is daunting at the best of times, but if you’re suffering from symptoms associated with the menopause then returning to work or applying for a new job can easily take you out of your comfort zone, especially if you have been out of the workplace for some time or have started to lose confidence in yourself.”
Jane’s top tips:
1. Research is key
It may have been a while since your last interview, and nowadays there is no excuse not to have an in-depth knowledge of your potential employer. A google search will be able to tell you everything from the company’s financial figures to its objectives and mission statement.
Then make sure you are fully comfortable with the job role and its description, as well as how this fits within the organisation. As part of your preparation identify the key skills and experience you are required to have and the questions they may ask around these topics, so you can plan suitable answers and examples.
As the menopause can affect your memory it is essential that you dedicate a lot of time and effort to the research stage and if needed write notes of key points you want to cover, especially if you are asked to prepare a presentation.
2. The night before
You want to go into the interview feeling fresh and ready to take on the world, so a good night’s sleep is essential for this. This may sound easy enough, but combine the nerves with the insomnia and night sweats often associated with the menopause and you could be in for a night of tossing and turning.
Try following a relaxing bedtime routine to help you drift off, a lavender bath, limiting screen time in the evening and perhaps some gentle meditation will all contribute to a successful night’s sleep.
While you’re relaxing try visualising yourself in the role and how it will feel if you get the job. This will help to boost your confidence and deepen your understanding of the role – a positive mental attitude goes a long way.
3. Looking the part
Confidence is key in any interview and looking the part goes some way to giving you that boost needed to make the best possible first impression. So choose an outfit that not only looks good, but is also comfortable to wear.
If you suffer from hot flushes, pick outfits in neutral colours to minimise the impact of staining caused by excess perspiration and wear fabrics such as cotton, bamboo and wicking fabrics to help keep you cool and dry.
Try also keeping deodorant and perfume handy to reapply prior to your interview. Changes to body odour are common during the menopause and stressful situations are likely to produce sweating in your armpits, so this will help you feel fresh and confident.
Any good interviewer will see if you’ve got any questions at the end of the meeting, and it is important to have some prepared to show that you’ve done your research and have thought about your role at the company.
Again, don’t be afraid to have some questions written down, as you don’t want menopausal memory lapses getting in the way of you getting your answers.
Keep the questions to the role and the company, minor details such as car parking, working hours and general housekeeping can be asked once you’ve been offered the job.
5. Ask for feedback
You won’t get every job you go for and after a period out of work, or even just in the same role for a while you will be out of interview practice. Don’t take a no as a personal rejection but as a learning experience.
Ask the HR contact for feedback on the interview so you can take this into consideration for the next role you go for.
The important thing is to not let it knock your confidence. You have a lot to offer the workforce and the right job will come along.
Keep an eye out for more menopause tips from Esteem’s Jane Hallam.
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Or get in touch: Menopause@henpicked.net