Downscaling Interview Questions

Many people are opting out of the workforce gravity effect, going for simpler, less demanding lifestyles.

Which, of course, is also almost the diametric opposite of the normal workplace. Downscaling sounds like a sort of afterlife to the average working person, whose idea of downscaling would be doing less for more pay.

There's a real cultural gap to be overcome in downscaling interviews, and you have to work pretty hard to make sure they don't think they're hiring a tourist.

Employers vary, in their view of downscaling, depending on how they're working themselves. For some people, it's a taboo subject, not focused, and barely relevant. In the executive arena, it may be a wish, but not a topic of conversation.

In part time jobs, downscaling makes sense, and has its own logic. In full time jobs, it could be viewed with skepticism, and will be, in at least some cases.

Downscaling is quite a big decision. It can be made as a result of not really having to work full time any more, and wanting to cut back on hours of commuting and high intensity work. It can be for health reasons, just to reduce the stress and pressures of daily work.

It can also be lifestyle choice. A lot of people aren't too happy in the rat race, and would rather be living differently.

Which of course creates the issue of having to explain these situations credibly to interviewers.

Explaining the c idea

Let's say you're a qualified person whose CV consists of a lot of highly paid jobs. You recently took a redundancy package. You're downscaling because you want to downscale, you've moved on mentally from the original career path.

You're going for a job which is at a lower level, much less responsibility and far less demanding work, close to home. You're in your mid 40s, and you're reasonably secure.

The question is why you're going for this particular job.

Your answer needs to be understandable as a career move, and from the employer's point of view. Simplicity is your most effective weapon at the interview for explaining your downscale move.

The answer has to be properly structured, so you address all the issues:

  • Why you're downscaling
  • The logic in the decision
  • What's in it for you
  • What appeals to you about the job

You don't have to dumb it down, but you do have to make sense:

I've been an accountant since college. I've done a lot of work, in various companies, as you can see from my CV. My family is almost grown up, the mortgage is paid off.

I've been working solidly for nearly 30 years. When I took the redundancy package, it was clear to me that if I was intending to go back into the industry, I had a choice of how to do that.

I have to be realistic, and start planning ahead for the rest of my life.

What I'm really trying to do is settle down into some good steady job that pays the bills, and keeps up the retirement fund payments. We're happy living in this area, and we're both trying to smell the roses, after all these years.

I've been shopping around for a job that suits, and when I saw this one I couldn't really resist.

Why you want the job is covered. You've also added the fact that you want a good steady job, and you're a local resident. You have the credentials to prove you can do the job. You sound settled and well adjusted to the idea.

You may be overqualified, but you're also motivated. You've obviously thought about this move, and it does make sense, to cover costs with a steady income.

This is an idealized answer, but you'll find you can come up with something similar, using the same logic.

There are, naturally, DON'TS.

Don't give the impression that you think you're on holiday, either at the interview or on the job, when you get it. Not appreciated.
Don't complicate your answer with any sort of deep and meaningful philosophical reason for downscaling, because the interviewers won't get it, and they can't put it in their recommendation.
Don't strain the relationship with a tale of the pressures of working in a higher income bracket than the interviewers. That will almost certainly will not get you the job.

You'll find, when you get the job, that your co-workers will be interested in why you've downscaled. It's not a coincidence.

They'd probably like to downscale, too.