Take2 has facilitated 100s of interviews in the last couple of months. One question that is without doubt the most integral part of your interview is-
“Why are you planning to change your career?” This question is followed without fail by- “Why did you choose this particular field to pivot into?"
It is disheartening to see candidates, after all the efforts that they put in up skilling themselves, earning certifications and applying to countless jobs, to ultimately falter at these questions.
I would argue that most candidates have a pretty clear understanding of why they are changing careers. They have also researched extensively into the particular field they are looking to pivot into. The problem is that they have put comparatively little effort into telling their story. The thoughts inside your head may not translate well during the interview.
So what should you do?
First of all it’s important to identify the common mistakes that you may be inadvertently making. Only then you can begin writing the story of your career. Working with 100s of pivoters at Take2 has given us a fair bit of insight.
- Answering the 'Why'
Most candidates tend to be overly negative about their previous industry, role and bosses. Even though your reasons are valid, it is more likely to come off as whining to your interviewer. Briefly acknowledge the circumstances of your decision, even though they may be less than perfect. Keep it simple and positive and express gratitude for all the learnings.
- Not just for money
Once you have established a bit of context, it is important to focus on your motivations. While money may be an important motivator, it should not be the only one. Some of the other reasons that help build a connection with your interviewer are faster career advancement, more purposeful work, and increased flexibility.
- Being ready to commit
From the next part of the question, it is important to showcase the intensive research that you have done on the role. The goal is to show that your new career path is not just a passing fancy and that you plan to stick around in the role for a considerable period of time.
- Know enough > Know-it-all
A common mistake candidates make is that they don’t read up on the company and the industry they are interviewing for. Recruiters don’t expect you to be an expert on the industry, but know enough to at least be able to hold a conversation during the interview.
- Don't hide what you have
Most candidates are well aware of their achievements in their previous job. But they fail to provide the interviewer with a transferable set of skills that will be applicable for your next job. They leave it up to the recruiter to find these transferable skills in their profile.
It is paramount that you prepare a list beforehand of attributes and transferable skills at your previous job that you feel will be pivotal for you to succeed in your next role. Most of your skills from your previous career, especially the soft skills will translate pretty well into roles like Project Management, Customer Success, Product Management and Business Operations.
- Imperfect real over Perfect reel
Also don’t forget to give examples and incidents from your previous job. Examples paint a picture of your experience and abilities for an employer, versus answering questions with a hypothetical. Even if the industry was entirely different, the ability to think critically and problem-solve speaks volumes of your competence level.
Never lose sight of the fact that you are a multifaceted person capable of accomplishing many things and wearing different hats. Your skills and your experience are unarguably applicable to more than a single job. The more clearly you can articulate your value and connect the dots between your past experience and new opportunities, the more possibilities will be available to you.