Many sales reps will start the interview process with other companies while still employed in their current role. Most simply cannot afford to be out of work for more than a month or two – the average U.S. worker has just $3500 in their savings account.
Interviewing is always nerve-wracking, but it can be a particularly stressful experience when you’re trying to navigate an interview while still employed elsewhere. Here are a few tips to make sure the interview process goes smoothly while maintaining good standing with your current employer:
It’s perfectly okay to ask to schedule the interview(s) before or after business hours (including weekends). If the employer is serious about hiring the best person for the job, then they’ll understand that the best people are typically already working somewhere else, and they will accommodate your schedule during the interview process. Additionally, it shows that you are still committed to your current employer and that you take your responsibilities as a sales professional very seriously.
If you do happen to schedule an interview during normal business hours, be prepared to field questions around how you were able to accommodate the interview (you might take the call when you normally take a lunch break, for example). If you don’t have a good answer, some employers may look at this as a red flag.
How to handle questions regarding your current position
If you are in the interview process while still employed, you will most likely field this question:
Why are you looking now?
Be upfront and direct. The job market is always changing, and professionals are always looking to grow. There is nothing wrong with exploring new opportunities where you can make more money, take on additional responsibilities, learn new solutions or services, gain vital career experiences, etc. If the situation with your current employer isn’t working out, for whatever reason, be sure to explain why – you want to be upfront about why you think the company you’re in the interview process for is different. Have your talking points for this question prepared and rehearsed (but don’t read from notes).
Never talk negatively about your current employer
When discussing your current employer, be careful not to talk negatively about them. You want to remain professional no matter what. Even if your experience was awful, there are polite and respectful ways to position it. And you never want your potential employer to think that if you’re not happy there, you could give them a bad reputation.
If you are interested in the role, be sure to express it during the interview process. Be direct about next steps and be sure to schedule them after normal business hours. Remind the potential new employer that you’re working and have an obligation to your current company. Ask them to let you know quickly if they feel you are not a fit for the role.
Finally, if you accept an offer, be sure to give your current employer the appropriate amount of notification (at least 2 weeks). If the new employer insists you start right away without giving your company notice, then this should be a red flag for you!
It’s okay to have conversations and learn about other opportunities. It’s part of the sales lifecycle. Be transparent and always remember that you still have an obligation to your current employer. This will go a long way with any potential NEW employer.
Still making the decision to look elsewhere? Check out When Is It Time to Look for a New Sales Position?