Career Change Interviews

Top tips to help you succeed

Job Interview

Job interviews can be quite an ordeal at the best of times, but if you are changing career, they can be particularly challenging.  It is essential that you prepare carefully so that you can give convincing answers to the tricky interview questions that may come up.

Here are my top tips to ensure that you go into that interview as well prepared as possible.

Focus on core skills

OK, you haven’t done this job before, but you are confident that you can do it because you have got a set of skills that you know are relevant and can be transferred to this new career.

It is these underlying skills you must concentrate on.  Describe how you have used them in the past and show how you see yourself applying them in this new  role.

Show them you have done your homework

It is essential that you do as much research as possible before you try to enter a new field of work.

Be creative with your research, talk to people in the sector, read professional journals, follow up relevant news stories, use the internet, read the company’s annual report.  Then be ready to weave evidence of this research into your answers.

It will help them understand your commitment and see how well prepared you are for this new career.

Explain how you have prepared for the change

You may have undertaken some additional training, gone back to college, read relevant books or done an online course as part of your career change plan.

Again, it is essential that you share this with them as evidence of your willingness to gain new knowledge and skills.

You should also emphasise your ability to learn on the job and give them examples of where you have had to get up to speed quickly in the past. But take care that you do not over emphasise the gaps in your knowledge.

Demonstrate that you meet their needs

Review the job description carefully to identify what they are looking for and prepare evidence of how you can meet their needs.

At job interviews, you should not just be telling them about your work history, you should be showing them that you can offer them what they are looking for.  It is this matching of your offer with their needs that can clinch the deal for you, so don’t leave them guessing.

Makesure they get to see the match.

Why are you leaving your previous career?

This is quite a common question for career changers and it can be a dangerous one.  Don’t fall into the trap of explaining what was wrong with your previous role.

Focus instead on your new career direction being a natural progression which will allow you to use your particular skills and abilities for the benefit of your new employer. It must come across as a positive, not a negative move.

Be positive about change

Change is a common feature of many jobs these days so your ability to adapt and be flexible can be a strong selling point.

Let them see that change is something that excites and energises you and have some examples ready of previous changes you have managed effectively at work and elsewhere in your life.

Be enthusiastic

This is so important.  Yes, I know it can be difficult when you are feeling really nervous, but if you can just let your enthusiasm for the job shine through, it will make an enormous impact on the interview.  Think about how you will feel when they offer the job to you and put some of that spirit into the way you respond. And above all, remember to smile and thank them!

If you follow these tips and prepare carefully for your career change interview, making sure you have clear evidence for the skills you will bring to the new role, then you will stand a very good chance of making just the positive impression that your future employer is looking for.

And now read on to discover more successful interview strategies…

Get your preparation right

The 3Ps formula for interview success

The top ten typical interview questions

Useful strategies for answering interview questions

Ideas for questions you can ask them at interview

The all important interview thank you letter

Dealing with difficult interview questions for career changers

About the author

Amy Thomas

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