Planning a mid-career change can be daunting. Since this involves moving to a completely different line of work, you are required to exhibit a fresh set of competencies necessary for the role, even if you are making the switch within the same industry.
There are various ways to successfully plan a career switch, from recognising new career goals to identifying areas for reskilling.
Once you’ve covered the necessary, the next step is to nail the interview so you can begin your foray into a new field. There are some common interview questions to consider during your preparation, but you should also prepare a few that lets you discuss your career change. These five interview questions are great to start with.
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1. Why do you want to switch careers?
This question aims to understand the reasons for leaving your career, not just your job. Recruiters need to know why you’re switching out from a stable career to start fresh again.
How to answer:
Show the recruiter that you are serious about making the change and know what the new professional track entails. Delve into why the new career aligns with your present values, interests and needs. Also, take them through a simple career map you plan to follow.
Avoid speaking about negative experiences in your present career unless you can frame them well.
For example, your current vocation requires you to be on standby all the time and this may have taken a toll on your familial relationships. As such, the switch will allow you to spend more time with your loved ones while you build a new career.
2. What is common between your current role & the one you are applying for?
There are many reasons for organisations to hire mid-career changers. One of them is the transferable skills you can bring to the table. This is your chance to stand out.
How to answer:
Gather all your relevant hard and soft skills you can apply to the role. Your experience in managing teams, for example, can illustrate your communication and leadership capabilities.
On the other hand, exposure to certain tech skills demanded industry-wide, such as automation or data analytics, gives you better leverage than completely fresh entrants.
“It’s essential to recognise that when you embark on the career change, everything you’ve done so far in your current role or career could be a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from more traditional applicants,” shares career coach and entrepreneur Melody Godfred.
“Instead of seeing your job now as an irrelevant stumbling block, see it as a diverse foundation that gives you a deep well to draw from in the new role, industry, or company.”
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3. Why do you think you would be the right fit for this role?
Identifying your transferable skills is one but ensuring that you have the basic requirements for the role is another. Your recruiter wants to check off the pointers on a suitability list.
How to answer:
Start by addressing the requirements stated in the job description. On top of your transferable skills, discuss the necessary qualifications you have acquired for the role to support your theory knowledge.
As an example, most entry-level IT networking jobs will require the Cisco Certified Network Associate certificate. A mid-career candidate switching to the digital marketing sector will need basic certifications in Digital Marketing or Google Analytics.
Also, remember that the organisations’ first priority is to progress. Aptly put by LinkedIn Learning Instructor Jenny Foss, “Companies are not in the business to take care of you. They’re there to make money, grow, or change the world. And they want to know what’s in it for them if they hire you.”
Therefore, identify how you can contribute to the company and achieve its goals. Researching the company and its services here is key.
4. Do you have issues with a pay cut?
A pay cut is not uncommon when switching careers. After all, you need to meet the skill level to be paid accordingly. Being prepared for this is vital.
How to answer:
While it is fine to admit that a lower salary may affect you, avoid divulging too much about this. Focus on how you will work around a pay cut.
For instance, you can assure the recruiter that you have enough savings to tide through for the short term while you train up.
5. What do you feel about starting from scratch again?
In terms of your fundamentals, starting from scratch puts you right at the level of a fresh graduate. So chances are you’d have to take orders and learn from seniors who may be younger than you.
Recruiters want to know if you’re comfortable with this.
How to answer:
Assure them of your ability to work with different people. Using examples in your past jobs, show how you have learnt plenty from the younger counterparts you have managed or worked directly with.
Convince them that receiving instructions or training from people regardless of age was necessary to your growth as a professional.
Take the step & make the change with confidence
There’s no better way to progress than to brave the experience. A mid-career switch is possible, as long as you maintain the right attitude. Learning from professionals who made a successful change is a good start to your journey!
If you’re still considering the switch, check out our guide on how you can make a successful career change.