How to Spin a Career Change in an Employment Interview
To successfully spin a career change in an interview, the most important things are believing in yourself, thorough preparation, promoting your adaptability, and demonstrating the value you bring to the organization.
If you have landed an interview, that means you have done something right in selling your skills and experiences on your resume and cover letter. Now comes the interesting and exciting part. You have to convince the interviewer of the value you bring to the organization. And you have to demonstrate to the hiring manager how you plan to apply your knowledge skills and abilities, and what you will do to fill in the necessary gaps, because there will be some.
Before the Interview: Work to Do to Spin a Career Change
It starts with you: This is about your mindset. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can successfully transition from one area to another. If deep down you do not believe that you can do it, how can you convince an employer to take a chance on you?
Do your homework before the interview: Chances are, that if you got an interview, you have done some homework already. Try to get access to company brochures, annual reports, and any other public documents. Analyze the work you did in the past, and the skills you acquired, that will help you in the role you are interviewing for. The most important issue is what you are bringing to the table.
Write out the requirements of the role that you are interviewing for.
Next, write out all your knowledge, skills, and abilities that match the requirements of the role. You may have done this already, and that’s why you were called in for an interview.
You need to take this one step further. Based on the top three strategic priorities of the organization (you should have found this out during the company research), in what additional ways can your role contribute to the company’s top goals?
Write out your knowledge, skills and abilities that can help the company reach its goals.
Write two to three vignettes that incorporate the value you bring with your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Write two to three vignettes about how you successfully adapt to change. Most people are averse to any kind of change. They love the status quo.
If the role you are interviewing for is one that you can do a mock-up of what you are suggesting, then do it. Otherwise, make sure you have samples of your work to support your claims that you are the best candidate for the position. Supporting documentation is always a good thing.
To prepare for the interview, practice, practice, then practice some more.
The Interview: Show Your Stuff When You Spin a Career Change
Get comfortable with not being the perfect fit: Keep in mind that it is very rare that any candidate will have 100 percent of the requirements for a position. In fact, it’s a common belief that if you have only 60 percent of the requirements, you should still apply for the role. You have to get comfortable with not being the perfect job fit, so you can exude confidence during the interview.
Be prepared to discuss the gaps: There will always be gaps when changing careers. Be proactive. Talk about how you plan to fill those gaps in knowledge. It may mean taking a course online or at a community college. It may mean reading a book. Or it may mean interviewing subject matter experts. The bottom line is that you need a plan to demonstrate how to fill the unavoidable knowledge gaps.
Demonstrate that you know how to change: The work you did prior to the interview prepares you for the interview. Demonstrate that you are embarking on the next stage of your career, and that you are ready for it. Promote your ability to easily adapt to change. It’s time to use the vignettes you prepared.