In the current professional landscape, people don’t just change jobs more than ever – they change careers. People realize that the career they’re in doesn’t fit who they are or what they love doing. Good for them that they recognize this and DO something about it! But that means a pretty unique interview experience.
When you’re interviewing for a position in a new industry, it’s important to remember some very key things. Some of these are obvious ones that cover any kind of interview. But some are definitely specific to a new career shift:
* Always arrive on time. This means get there early. It gives you a chance to survey your surroundings and get comfortable, not to mention the fact that NOT being there on time makes a bad impression!
* Be prepared with knowledge on the industry. Do research on the industry overall and the company in particular, especially if it’s a new industry for you. Access trade magazines and industry journals. By “talking the language,” you reinforce that you have the ability to pick up industry-specific knowledge quickly.
* Cover your main points. Know the main points you want to get across to the interviewer and cover them early and as often as you can since you won’t know how long the job interview will last.
* For a new industry, be prepared to field questions concerning your lack of experience in the industry. It is important that you understand and can convey your shift of industries and the expertise you bring to it. The interviewer will potentially have to field these questions from others if you are to move forward in the interview process, so they’ll no doubt ask you. So, give a reason for the change and solid reasons why you are a good fit for the company.
Here are some examples of tough interview questions that might be asked when you’re changing to a new industry, and the kinds of answers I recommend to my Career Coaching clients to make a positive impact:
Midlife Career Change Interview Question #1 – “Doesn’t this job represent a career switch for you?”
Answer – “While I’ve never been in this industry, I’ll be using the same abilities and skills to solve problems, meet deadlines and manage people that were needed in my previous positions. For example…” Give examples of your abilities which form a connecting link between your skills in previous jobs and the one in which you are being interviewed.
Midlife Career Change Interview Question #2 – “After reviewing your qualifications, I find that you don’t have…?”
Answer – “That’s true, but I do have…” Give examples. Again, relate your skills to the position. Keep the interviewer’s attention focused on the real issue – your ability to do the job.
Midlife Career Change Interview Question #3 – “You don’t have experience in this industry, so why do you want to work here?”
Answer – You may not know yet, so be honest. But follow it with, “But here’s what I know about your company… How accurate am I?”
If you do know why you want to work for this company, it will usually relate to one of three areas – the company (reputation, high-profile, growth, offering of ground-floor opportunities), the position (variety, pace, technical orientation, scope of authority) or the people (personality match). Always articulate what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.
Midlife Career Change Interview Question #4 – “How will you deal with subordinates and peers who have more experience in the industry than you?”
Answer – “Just as I’ve dealt with subordinates and peers in the past. Of course, I’ll learn from them when I can and take their suggestions if valid. But I’ll also demonstrate that my experience and knowledge is transferable to this industry.”