Interviewing the Downshifting Candidate

business meetingDownshifting, the trend of accomplished professionals looking for balance in their lives by applying for jobs for which they are seemingly over-qualified, is becoming more and more popular. As recruiters and hiring managers, we may get excited when someone so experienced and respected in their field wants to join our organization. However, it would be unnatural for their submission to a job that is so beneath their skill level not to raise our eyebrows as well as our suspicions.

While downshifters may have many reasons for making this transition, some voluntary and some involuntary, hiring managers and decision makers will only have one thing to decide. Is this candidate the right match?

PREMIUM CONTENT: Staffing firms’ best and worst strategic decisions

Here are five points to help guide you while interviewing your downshifter:

  1. Do you trust the candidate’s motives? It’s our job to probe and to get to the bottom of a candidate’s motivations. It’s also human nature to question the motives of someone so accomplished suddenly wanting less responsibility. What’s really going on? Did this person just have a falling out with top level decision makers in their current company? Are they worried about their current job security? Did something happen to take them out of good standing in their current situation? Only after deep probing and several interviews will you believe you have a good understanding for what the candidate’s story is. Your gut will be the best judge of whether or not you trust that story.
  2. How did this candidate get to you? Most people looking to downshift will be looking to leverage their network. They realize that this is a big move, one not made lightly. They also have the foresight to know that recruiters and hiring managers are inclined to be skeptical of their motives and that blindly submitting resumes through job boards may not only produce little to no results, but may also seem a bit desperate. Those serious about their decision will utilize their network and be more targeted in their search and searching methods.
  3. What can they specifically offer? People who are accomplished have gotten to where they are by being very specific in their work. They are goal setters and planners. If this is a true desire to take less responsibility but still provide optimal results to an employer, they should come prepared with a plan of how they are going to achieve those results. Your company may have other ideas of how to get to that end result but coming with a plan shows they are committed to this change and realize that they have to show that commitment in concrete terms. These candidates know they are in the position of convincing you of their ability and dedication and know they can’t rest on the laurels of their previous work.
  4. Is this candidate a culture fit? As recruiters, finding such highly accomplished candidates can feel like we’ve hit the recruiting jackpot. We do, however, have to be sure that we’re not blinded by our own sense of accomplishment in attracting seemingly sought-after talent. Ultimately, if this candidate isn’t the right culture fit, the hire can do more damage than good within the organization. Be sure that the work ethic and philosophies of the candidate match up with what you’re promoting within the organization.
  5. Have you managed expectations? Before you give any offer, be sure to go over your expectations. Remember, whether it’s a voluntary or involuntary decision to downshift, these candidates are making a move because they want to find more balance in their lives. Nothing would be worse than to find out that you and the candidate have different opinions on what a flexible schedule looks like. State your excitement to have them join the team but that you want everyone to go in on the same page. Employers may secretly hope that these candidates will soon be inspired to work tireless hours or that they’ll be as dedicated as they were when building their careers. Conversely, you don’t want to end up with an employee who thinks they can coast and be adequately productive without putting in the necessary time.

MORE: The importance of mock interviewing


Michele Mavi

Michele Mavi
Michele Mavi is a recruiter at Atrium Staffing, where she responsible for training all new recruiters. She has more than 10 years of experience as a recruiter, interview coach and resume writer.

Michele Mavi

Share This Post


Related Articles

Powered by ·