Interview Questions When You Have Changed Careers

Why Should an Employer Take a Risk on You

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Many employers are concerned about generating a return on their investment with new hires, so they look to hire people who they think they will make a lasting commitment to the company. If you're changing careers, for instance, you might be asked, "Why should I take a risk on you, since you've changed fields before?"

In your answer, you'll need to address any concerns the employer might have about how long you will remain in the job. This is especially important if your resume indicates that you've had multiple new positions within a short period of time.

Matching Your Skills to the Role

The best way to answer this kind of question is to emphasize how well this particular position fits your interests. Review each element of the job description and note the responsibilities that are most interesting to you. Think of parallel roles you've had in the past and be ready to describe how fulfilling that work was for you.

Position yourself as a solution, not a potential risk. Match what you have to offer to the list of job requirements and give your best sales pitch, emphasizing the traits and characteristics that make you a unique and solid match for the job.

Example: “From our conversation, it seems like you're looking for someone to come in and take charge of your editorial department.

“With my seven years of experience working in online and print publishing, I have saved companies thousands of dollars by working efficiently with freelancers. In my last job, I hit the ground running, overseeing fifty off-site editors and sized up problems quickly with our online publishing platform.

“I'm able to stay focused in stressful situations, such as when we increased our article production by fifty percent month over month.”

Do Your Research

Research your new career field thoroughly and present a detailed explanation about why you are making the change. Speak with contacts working in your new field and shadow them to gain a more in-depth view of their work role. If possible, intern or volunteer for a short time to show prospective employers that you are knowledgeable about the field and committed to your new role.

If you think your employment history might raise a red flag in regards to your level of commitment to each job you've held, emphasize how your past experience has led you to this field and the ways in which it bolstered your confidence for this new position.

For example, you might mention that in the past, you changed fields because of the allure of a higher salary, more responsibility or greater status, but didn't carefully consider how stimulating the actual work would be. You can mention that you grew from that experience and are ready to fully commit to a new position.

Tell a Story

Job hopping in and of itself doesn’t need to be detrimental to your profile as a job seeker. It’s all about how you frame your response. Look for ways to show continuity in your career path. Tell a story that shows continued growth.

For example, maybe your last three jobs seem unrelated on the surface but allowed you to assume additional leadership responsibilities with each change. Demonstrate that in your answer, and then show how you’d be able to use what you’ve learned to excel in the role you’re discussing.

Keep Your Answer Short and Sweet

Your goal is to answer this question as quickly and persuasively as possible … and then move on to the rest of the interview. Don’t dwell on the topic any longer than necessary.

Practice Your Response

The best antidote to nerves is preparation. If you’ve changed jobs multiple times in the past, you should be prepared for this or similar questions. Formulate a response and then practice delivering it until you feel completely comfortable. (Don’t memorize it, however. You don’t want to seem like you’re delivering your statement before a judge.)

Don’t Negotiate Against Yourself

When you’re feeling insecure in an interview situation, it’s easy to start having both sides of the conversation. Resist the urge. Now is not the time to be self-deprecating or to bring yourself down. Be positive – and don’t be afraid to fake confidence if you need to.