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How To Interview On The Sly

Securing a new job can feel like a feat unto itself, but interviewing for a job when you already have one can feel like a Herculean task at times. There’s a bit of a secret agent feel to it, and you might feel like you are metaphorically, or possibly literally, looking over your shoulder at all times.

Unfortunately, part of playing the game is interviewing for a job on the sly. It can no doubt be a tricky situation to navigate. If your perspective company needs a handful of references, do you ask a colleague from your current company to give one? How do you schedule interviews during the workday without raising any flags about where you are off to?

Luckily, there are some tips and tricks to make your dual lifestyle more palatable.

Have a KISS Mindset

When you are interviewing for a new job, there is no getting out of having to take some time out of the office, either for a phone interview or an in-person interview. Of course you should be mindful of meeting times so that they don’t interfere with the job that is still paying your bills. (If you work in, say, retail, Black Friday is not the time to chat with a new company.) But it’s inevitable that you will be away from your desk during your job search. When you request time off from superiors or let colleagues know you will be unavailable, resist the temptation to over share where you will be. Instead, be as vague and as simple as possible. It really is no one’s business but your own where you are, after all. Block the time out on your calendar and keep to the time allocated in order to raise as few eyebrows as possible.

Dress For The Job You Want — And the Job You Have

If you work in a casual business environment, showing up in a suit could set off all sorts of alarms. On the flipside, if the company you are interviewing with is accustomed to a more spiffed up look, showing up in jeans will also be a no-go. You therefore have yourself this unavoidable catch-22 when it comes to interviewing. As awkward as it might feel, it’s time to take a cue from Clark Kent and find your version of a telephone box to change in. (Tip: It’s best to not change at either your current or perspective job, so find a good place in between locations.) Another option is to use PTO in order to be out of the office for a morning or afternoon.

Keep Your Current Employer Out of The Conversation

Unless an interviewer specifically asks you about your current employer, it’s best to keep mum. You never want to bad-mouth an employer, and it’s especially bad form to bad-mouth a company where you are still on payroll. Even if you have a strained relationship, there’s no need to harp on the negative; turn everything into a learning experience and move on. It’s also perfectly acceptable to ask that the company you are interviewing with not contact your current employer and that it tell as few people as possible that you are interviewing for the position. With an ever-connected world, it’s impossible to know all the connections a company and its employees have.

Likewise, Keep The Prospective Employer Out of the Conversation With Coworkers

Just like you shouldn’t talk about your current employer with prospective employers, you also shouldn’t talk about prospective employers with current colleagues. You might tell a confident that you are looking and interviewing, but that’s only if you trust him or her unequivocally. The fewer people who know, the better.

Burchard & Associates is an executive search firm specialized in accounting and finance recruiting across all business sectors, including manufacturing, retail, wholesale/distribution, healthcare, financial services, and more.

If you’re searching for a new position in accounting or finance, be sure to check out the latest job postings on our website and LinkedIn.

Burchard & Associates provides a personal approach to accounting and tax recruitment for St. Louis and beyond. We are ready to listen to YOU.

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