How to Ace a Job Interview When Changing Careers: Tips and Tricks
Making a career change can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. You may be worried about how you will perform in job interviews, especially if the job is in a completely different field than what you are used to. Don't worry – we have some tips and tricks that will help you ace any job interview, regardless of your career change!
Know Your Audience
Before you walk into the job interview, it can be helpful to figure out who you are meeting with. This means looking up the names of the people on LinkedIn to better assess what the interviewer may be interested in. Looking at the interviewer's background can be a helpful tool in framing up your examples for any job interview.
In doing your research about the interviewer, you may unlock some common ground. This can mean finding similarities in your backgrounds or identifying whether the interviewer also made a career change to join the organization. Whatever you learn in this research, make sure to apply these insights to how you answer their questions in the job interview.
Re-Read the Job Description
The most common (and easiest to avoid) mistake is to forget to review the job description before the interview. Re-reading that job description can tell you a lot about what the person hired will do. And, you can use it to identify the types of questions that will be asked in the interview.
If you're interviewing for a job that is very different from your past experience, take the time to read through the job description and figure out which skills and experiences are relevant. It can be helpful to make a list of these keywords before going into the job interview so you have concrete examples to back up your claims.
Prepare Your Answers
Once you know what examples you want to use, it's time to start preparing your answers. The best way to do this is by using the STAR Method:
- S – Situation: describe the situation that you were in
- T – Task: what was your goal in this situation?
- A – Action: what did you do to achieve that goal?
- R – Results: what were the results of your actions?
By preparing your answers with the STAR method, you can be sure to have concrete examples for any job interview question. This will also help you to focus your responses on the actual question being asked.
Review the Company Website
Another important step to plan for your job interview is to review the company website. You can find a lot of information about the company culture, news, and other important details about the organization on its website. You can use this information to think about how to best capture your prior experience.
And, most importantly, remember to reframe the way you speak about that prior experience in the interview using the language of the company that you want to join. Making a career change means that you will need to think about and communicate your prior experience in a way that is relevant to the new field. This can be a lot easier when you use the same language as the company that you are interviewing with and you can find it on their website.
Do Your Research & Use it
Take the next step in your research for the job interview to run some searches online. You can do this with some news searches. This will help you to quickly identify any public announcements or strategies.
You can also review the company's social media to find a lot of insights about how it communicates publicly. This information can be really helpful to better understand what is important to the organization and to assess how you may fit into the bigger picture.
And, most importantly, make sure that you are using these insights in your answers to the questions that you are asked in the interview. This can be as simple as referencing what you found in your responses or asking questions about it when given the chance. Doing this research and using it in your interview can make a huge difference to standing out as a candidate committed to making the career change.
Have Clear Examples Ready
As discussed above, you will need to re-read the job description and have your answers ready for the job interview if you want to make the career change. However, you will also want to make sure that the way you communicate these examples makes sense in the context of the new industry or role that you are pursuing.
This means that you should think about ways that your prior career can translate to the particular role that you are interviewing for. The best answers to any job interview question are those that make it easy for the interviewer to see you in their open job.
Make it easy for the interviewer by picking and using examples in your answers that focus on the relevant transferrable skills. Remove any jargon of your prior career/industry and focus on the details that are most relevant to the job that you are actually interviewing for. This will make it easier for you to stay focused and for the interviewer to see how you fit their needs.
Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths
Everyone has weaknesses and you can be clear about what those are. However, you can also use those weaknesses as strengths in your answers.
For example, being new to the industry could be positioned as a fresh perspective with broader insights. Or, your prior experience could show you another part of the industry that makes you better at doing this piece of the industry because you know what happens downstream.
Whatever your strengths and weaknesses may be, make sure to clearly articulate them in your job interview. This will enable the interviewer to connect with you quickly and for you to stay on message throughout the whole job interview.
Practice Your Answers
The final step to nailing your job interview to make that career change is to practice your answers. This means not only thinking about what will be asked but practicing how you will answer those questions.
For most people, there is value in practicing these answers out loud. This can seem awkward at first, but it can be a huge benefit to making sure that you can deliver the answers as best as possible in the real interview.
Plus, it will also help you to be more comfortable with the content. This can make a huge difference in how you come across and whether or not you get the job offer.