What’s more nerve-wracking than a job interview? A career change interview!
Yes, once you’ve decided to take the plunge and change career into an industry or position that you simply know you’ll love, the logistics start looming. Our insecurities raise their ugly heads. They ask us why in the world we would be considered for a role in which we have no experience and very little knowledge.
It’s enough to send even the most confident among us back to our cubicle to a job that is slowly draining our life essence.
Well, I say, stop right there!
Here’s an interesting fact for you: the actual mechanics of a career change interview isn’t a million miles away from your run of the mill (slightly less scary) job interview.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s explore this together.
Career Change Interview Questions
When we dissect an interview – any job interview – we’ll see that the bottom line is that the employer is trying to ascertain if you are the best person for the job. And this knowledge colours every carefully considered question that you are likely to be asked.
The best way to view these questions is as an opportunity to spell out your value to a complete stranger – in no uncertain terms.
The Secret of Transferable Skills
Do you know what your transferable skills are?
Indeed defines these succinctly as follows, “Transferable skills, also known as “portable skills,” are qualities that can be transferred from one job to another. You likely already possess many transferable skills employers want, like organization or strong communication.”
Transferable skills include a host of qualities which employers will be on the lookout for. Teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, analytical thinking, and time management are some. These traits are either inherent or developed over time, and are essentially how you do your job, not necessarily what you know.
That’s great news.
Common Interview Questions
Well, consider some of the common questions asked during a career change interview:
- Why do you believe that you are qualified for this position?
- What do you know about this role/industry?
- Why should we risk hiring you?
Anticipating and responding correctly to these questions puts you in the best position to compete head to head with candidates who may be more qualified than you.
When preparing your response to these questions you’ll no doubt find yourself unpacking every element of your current role and applying your ‘soft skills’ to a new position.
For example, your previous role in customer services has given you the patience and confidence to deal with a cross-section of people which will serve you very well in your new sales position.
The time that you spent in the retentions department has given you a wonderful ability to hone your active listening skills which are essential in the managerial role that you are applying for.
Perhaps you were plunged into the deep end on a project and had to learn new systems and processes super-fast. You found that you were surprisingly good at absorbing technical information, and applying it, really quickly. This knowledge encouraged you to pursue your technical studies which you are keen to now put into practice.
Yes, you appreciate that you previously worked as a teacher, however, the self-control and forbearance learned in this environment means that you’re more than capable of overseeing a team of demanding Millennials.
As you can see, these transferable skills are the key to a successful career change interview. You will be proving, with real-life examples, that you are an excellent fit for the role.
And don’t be shy to tell your interviewer that skills can be taught, but the personality is there to stay.
The Career Change Interview Tripwire
What cannot be covered by the above process is the inevitable question which can undo all your hard work.
Why do you want to leave your current role?
Did you fail? Are you a job hopper? Are you trying to escape the industry?
All these questions will be running through your interviewer’s mind during your meeting, as they look for reasons not to hire a long shot like yourself.
The answer to this one is not easy, and there is no one-size-fits-all response. The one piece of advice that I will always offer is to be as honest as you can.
If you have recently unearthed a previously unknown skill set, or you have moved to a country where there is little or no work in your current field, you have something to work with.
If not, make sure you don’t respond in a way that degrades your previous employer or industry. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of what a career change will bring to you and how this could benefit your new employer.
To return to my comment earlier in this article, the differences between a career change interview and a ‘normal’ job interview aren’t that much.
Ultimately, you will have to:
- Prove your value by highlighting relevant, transferable skills
- Provide examples of how you have previously tackled issues which you may face in your new career
- Research your desired role, company or industry to show your interest and sincerity
- Upskill beforehand with relevant courses or training to further prove your value
- Don’t second-guess yourself!
Easier said than done?
If you are considering a change of career, why not consider chatting with me? I am a professional coach who has extensive experience in guiding clients through the tricky waters of a career change, interviews and redundancies.
I’d be thrilled to assist you in getting your new career on track.