Changing careers but worried about how that might be perceived during interviews? Interviews by default are hard, but they’re even harder when you’re making a complete career switch. Here’s how to ace that interview anyway.
It takes a lot of courage, effort and hard work to change your career path. The decision to do so is never made lightly because making that change often feels like you’re pressing the reset button. The challenge of making a transition into a different field means that when it comes to finding a new job, the stakes are much higher, because you’ll be competing against people who, on paper, are seemingly far more qualified than you are.
However, making a career change needn’t be something that should be holding you back from applying for that position. There are many ways you can ensure that you stand out in an interview for that prospective job you have your eye one.
With change comes applied knowledge. Making that career shift means that even before you ready yourself for an interview, you need to research the industry that you're going to be working in. Don't look at your lack of experience (acknowledge it yes, but don't let it deter you), but identify critical areas where you feel you can use the knowledge that you do have to fill in the gaps.
In your preparation phase, Work Chron suggests that you network and attend events where you can meet up and connect with people in the industry, listen to discussions, find out what some of the emerging trends are and merely ask for advice about what it takes to work in the industry.
Sell your skills using examples
During an interview, use your skills to your advantage, and don’t just talk about how those skills will benefit the company you’re applying for.Caris Thetford from The Muse.com suggests that using examples of how you employed your skills solidifies your position as a strong candidate and adds that how you paint yourself is a good way of also answering those tricky questions that ask you what you’d do in hypothetical situations. She adds that in this case, it's to your advantage because examples solidify the fact that you'd make a good fit for the company. Anyone can have the qualifications for a field, but prospective employers want to see your skills in action.It’s particularly vital to remember that when you’re submitting your CV. Don’t just list your job description but describe your role and list some of the tasks you were responsible for, strategies you’ve implemented and successes you’ve achieved. And while you’re at it – don’t forget to focus on your transferable skills as well.Every job has a set of skills that most other posts use. Think in terms of skills like communication, problem-solving and project management, for example. While these skills aren’t always listed as the main requirements of a job, demonstrating how you’d use it to solve an issue that’s related to the industry you’re aiming to get in would definitely create a good impression.
Remember, it’s not always the “best” candidate that gets the job, but the one who has the right fit. Be willing to talk about why you’ve decided to make a career change. Many hiring managers and recruiters often ask candidates why they’ve left their previous jobs, so it goes without saying that you should be prepared to answer the question about why you’re making a career change.
When answering this question, be honest, but don’t be negative. Everyone goes through change, so focus on responding to this question by keeping your answer future-orientated. Don’t lambast your previous industry or the people working in that industry (even if you had a bad experience). Instead, convince your future employer why this change would be a benefit for their company.
John Rossheim from Monster.com adds that you should demonstrate how you’ve changed and adapted throughout the various phases in our own career, to show that you’re adaptable.
Finally, don’t be afraid to acknowledge the gaps in your skills
Recruiters and hiring managers are renowned for asking the greatest strength and weakness question, so be prepared to not only address that but also potential gaps in your knowledge regarding the industry you’d like to be working in.Be frank and turn the conversation in your favour by not only acknowledging what areas you need to focus on but talk about how you're planning to address it. For example, by mentioning that you’re not well versed in Photoshop, but that you’ve enrolled in a course to help you master the program, you’re not only showing that you’re taking steps to improve, but you’re also showcasing a willingness to learn and step out of your comfort zone.
And for many managers, that honesty, combined with your proactive steps increases your chances to land that job.
Writer | Tammy February