If you’ve been in the work force long enough to grow a network, you’ve probably noticed something. As you talk to more professionals, it seems that most people no longer work in the industry where their career began. This is something that can occur for a few different reasons. For some workers, they simply receive a better offer in a different industry. Others grow tired of the same type of work and want to branch out. Or perhaps they discover a passion they never previously knew existed. No matter the case, it’s not uncommon to switch careers. However, it can be interesting to address this in an interview. We’ll discuss how to address your career change in an interview.
First Steps to Prepare
Firstly, the best place to start is by figuring out why you are pursuing the change. Make sure you have a firm grasp on why you are making this change in your career. Once you have an understanding of that, it will benefit you greatly in your ability to answer the questions you may receive in an interview.
If you are looking up questions, you’ve probably already landed the interview at this point. In the event that this is true, take a step back and acknowledge that they believe you could be qualified for the position. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been offered the interview. This should calm your worries that your experience is irrelevant. The next step is establishing yourself as a qualified candidate for the position.
Addressing the Career Change
There is a good basic structure for answering this question. First, establish where you are in terms of your career path and goals. Express what you enjoyed about your last job/industry, and then express why you’re excited to work in this new field with the career change. It’s important not too speak in an overly negative fashion about your past industry. This can come across as picky or shallow, and they may fear you would feel the same way about the new position.
It’s also important to establish you’re not a job hopper, and that you see a long term future in this industry. If a company is going to take a risk on someone from outside their field, you should try and calm their fears. You want to encourage them to give you a chance. This would be a good opportunity to discuss why you’re changing fields. Again don’t be too negative. Stating that you’re looking for more work/life balance or trying to pursue a field you are more passionate about are both great reasons. Genuine answers will go a long way with this question. Prove that you want to make the change work. Convince them you are excited for this opportunity.
A good way to accomplish this is to point out the overlap in skills between your old career and your new career. For example, if you’ve been in charge of a team, even if it’s retail, that is still management experience. When making a career change it’s important to look back on your experience in a more general sense. Try and focus on what is transferable and useful in any type of job.
Discussing your overall career path and how it has shifted is also a good idea. If you’re curious how to answer an interview question about the job’s role in your career path, check out our previous blog here. For a strong closing point, discuss how you are dynamic and adaptable. This is a quality that is highly sought after in almost any position. If you can continuously learn and adapt to new circumstances, you are an incredibly valuable employee. Taking on this type of career change demonstrates that. Highlight your adaptability and willingness to embrace change at the end of your answer and you will have a strong closing to your answer.