How to Handle a Job Interview in Recovery
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How to Handle a Job Interview in Recovery

How to Handle a Job Interview in Recovery

Choosing a life of sobriety and recovery is a significant step toward achieving the success you deserve. However, managing recovery takes time, energy, and persistence. Part of the success in recovery is about how you rebuild your professional life.

Finding a job in early recovery could create a lot of uncertainty and stress. You might worry that you somehow are marked because of your past addiction and therefore are at a disadvantage to finding work that you enjoy. You might also worry about explaining any lapse in employment and believe that this also puts you at a disadvantage. However, this is untrue; the structure and skills you have attained in managing your sobriety can work to your benefit when preparing to venture out into your chosen career field.

Finding work helps to further your recovery by keeping you productive and motivated. Still, seeking employment might feel like a full-time job in itself. With preparation, you can make the most of your time and find employment during recovery.


Perhaps the biggest obstacle during a job interview in recovery is determining what to tell your potential employer. Your new sobriety might feel like the elephant in the room and could have you contemplating whether or not to disclose this information. Remember that your recovery is your business, and in many cases, you may be able to avoid the topic altogether. However, you should also never lie during an interview; be honest if they ask about a lapse in employment.

Being honest helps you become more confident and comfortable with who you are and allows others to see how secure you are now that you are sober. Therefore, having an honest answer prepared for such a scenario can help you answer questions about your past and newfound sobriety more comfortably. You do not need to disclose all details; instead, focus on the future and where you're going.

You will also want to know your rights. While it varies by state, interviewers are not able to ask you specific questions. If you feel uneasy about going to an interview early in your recovery, looking into the restrictions during a job interview helps you understand what your potential employer can and cannot ask. When you prepare and know ahead of time about the appropriate areas for an interviewer to inquire, it helps ease your mind going into an interview.


When preparing for an interview, you can never be overdressed. Dressing professionally, including getting a haircut, shaving, etc., goes a long way in making that first impression with a potential employer. Dressing professionally also conveys how serious you are about your job and helps you overcome any perceptions people have about individuals in recovery. You don't need to change who you are or wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. You can still dress professionally while maintaining what makes you unique, including being stylish with your hair, jewelry, or wearing colors that best compliment you.

In addition to looking the part, you will also benefit from practicing for the interview. Start by researching the company beforehand to understand the company better and what they represent. Including the mission statement of the company in a cover letter is sure to impress any future employer. You can also call on a close friend to help you with a mock interview and ask you questions that you might not be considering. This exercise will help prepare you to think on your feet. Rehearsing could also help to bring to light any underlying qualities about yourself that you might have forgotten.

Remember, you never want to go into an interview "cold" or with the philosophy that you are good enough to "wing it." Interviewers are good at spotting when you are unprepared or uncomfortable, and therefore you might send mixed signals if you are not prepared.


It is more than okay to ask your interviewer questions. During your time preparing and researching the company, write down potential questions you might have as they arise. Have your list of questions ready during the interview, and don't be afraid to speak up. Interviewers deliberately ask if you have any questions because they want to see how much you know and how interested you are in the position. Not only will your questions reveal how interested you are in the position, but they will also help you determine if this position is the right fit for you. Before your interview, make sure you have questions to explore the job's daily duties and benefits.


A job interview in recovery can be stressful; therefore, it is essential to remember to practice self-care before and after the interview. Self-care is crucial if your substance use is tied to your nerves and can make your anxiety worse. Create a comfortable setting to find ways to unwind and ease your anxiety. You could try meditation, mindfulness, or exercise. You can also set up a time to talk with a friend, family member, peer, or therapist. Expressing your emotions in healthy ways helps ease your stress and anxiety and keep them from taking over.

You are not the only person in recovery to want success from a career they enjoy. Many people in recovery have discovered great success and career enjoyment once sober. Like anything worth doing, it takes time, persistence, and learning to achieve. If the thought of pursuing a job is causing you great anxiety and therefore triggering you, then it is time to get help. At START UP RECOVERY, our primary goal is to help get you on the path toward personal and professional success. Between our staff and individuals who seek help with us, you will soon immerse yourself into a network of motivated individuals striving for the best life and recovery possible. Our influential and inspiring community will help you discover that you are not alone in your pursuit, and like you, many face the same obstacles. To begin to overcome these obstacles, reach out to START UP RECOVERY today by calling 310-773-3809.

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