You’re looking for a career change. You have your eyes on a role that looks perfect for you and you’ve managed to land an interview. There’s only one person standing between you and your dream job now – the interviewer. How are you going to convince them that you’re the right person to hire, even though you have no previous experience in that particular role? If you’re getting ready for a career change, here are 4 tips to prepare for your next job interview.
1. Do your research
If you think this job might be ‘the one’, then you don’t want to walk in unprepared. So make sure you thoroughly research the company, the industry, and the job role before heading to your interview. You can find most of the information you’ll need online and from the comfort of your home.
So start with a Google search – read through the company website and any other articles you might find, and then head over to Glassdoor. The website has reviews of companies written by the employees who work for them. With some luck, you’ll find details about the organisation you’re looking for but also key information on the format of their interviews and the kind of questions you’re likely to be asked.
Don’t forget to make good use of social media as well. Consider following the company on Twitter and LinkedIn. Look at the type of content they share in terms of updates, articles, and links to external resources.
- What more does this tell you about the company?
- What do they seem passionate about?
- Can you spot anything that you could perhaps link to your own work experience and mention in your upcoming job interview?
Also, look at which companies, people, brands, and news outlets the company follows. It’s an easy and quick way to find out more about the company’s competitors and the latest industry trends.
While you can find out a lot of information online, if you’re serious about this role, don’t just stop there. Try and talk to other people who already do the job. Do you know someone who either works in the same company or in the same industry? This might help you understand more about the culture you’d be working in. But it may also tell you more about the challenges the organisation faces and the skills that you need in order to demonstrate that you can do the job well.
If you don’t know anyone who does this job or works in this company, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to track someone down. Start by asking your friends and family and any contacts you might have. Do they know anyone who works in this role or has any connections to this company? If you have no luck, do a search on LinkedIn – you’ll probably find you have second and third-degree connections on there who will be happy to speak to you.
Whatever the job is that you’re applying for, there will be a professional body associated with it that you can join. For example, if you want to work in HR, you can join the CIPD. If you want to work in Marketing, you can join the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing). And if you aren’t sure which professional body you need to get in touch with, this is a good question to ask when you’re doing your in-person research.
Professional bodies will normally have detailed information about the career you want to go into. Some even offer free, or low-cost mentoring programmes and career workshops for their members. Many will hold regular networking events – attending these is a great way of meeting people who already are on this career path and ask them for some advice. Professional bodies also tend to send their members regular newsletters and magazines packed full of information about the latest industry trends – all this might come in handy for your interview!
2. Identify your transferable skills
You may have not worked in the role you’re applying for. But, no matter what capacity you’ve been working in, you will have developed skills that can be transferred to the job you’re interviewing for.
Before attending the interview, ask whether a full job description for the role is available. This is a great starting point to help you identify the key skills that are needed for the job. And if there isn’t one, carefully re-read the job advertisement and pick out anything that points to the skills. With the information in front of you, spend some time thinking about your previous work experience and what skills you have that might be useful for your new role. Which ones do you think are worth mentioning?
If you’ve actively been applying for jobs, you might have noticed that some of the key skills that the majority of jobs need are:
- Time management.
- Good communication.
So think about where, in your previous jobs, you have demonstrated good mastery of these skills. Wherever you can, come up with scenarios or examples of when you put these skills into action. This allows you to share more insightful information with your interviewer.
For example, instead of saying:
“I’m very organised.”
you can say something along the lines of:
“One of my strengths is my time management. I always make sure I have yearly objectives that have been agreed with my line manager. I then plan out how I’m going to reach these objectives throughout the year by breaking them down into smaller tasks and setting deadlines for them.
For example, this year one of my objectives was to launch a new employee survey. The biggest challenge was dedicating enough time for it when I was also juggling my daily tasks. I found the solution was to block out a three-hour block from my calendar once a week. I would turn off all my email notifications for these three hours and book myself into a meeting room. This allowed me to work undisturbed. Naturally, I made sure I communicated with my team about where I was going and what I was doing. I also set up an out of office email message, so that anyone emailing me knew they wouldn’t hear back from me straight away.”
Can you see how much more impactful this could be during an interview?
3. Plan to fill any gaps
After you’ve done your research and identified your transferable skills, be honest with yourself. Are there certain skills or knowledge that you don’t have yet but that you need for this role? Don’t panic if this is the case – if you’re changing career, this is bound to happen. But there are some simple things you can do to tackle this.
Maybe you can:
- Sign up for a course.
- Ask to do a project at work that will help you build up these skills.
- Volunteer to help a local charity or small business in ways that will help you develop these skills.
- Arrange to do some work experience.
You don’t have to perfect all the skills you need immediately. But the interviewer will be impressed by the fact you’re being proactive and have taken the time to think about the job in this much detail.
4. Prepare your interview pitch
So you’ve done your research, you’ve identified your transferable skills, and you’ve planned to fill any skills gaps. All that’s left to do to best prepare for your job interview is to prepare your interview pitch. Come up with a few sentences that explain why you’re perfect for the job, even if you’ve never done it before. Use all of your research to craft your answer, and remember to include:
- What you know about the industry and the organisation.
- How (and what) you know about the role.
- What transferrable skills you have that you will be bringing with you.
- How you are overcoming any skills or knowledge gaps.
Would you like some help to prepare for your next job interview?
Have you been invited to interviews but, despite all the preparation, you’ve not been offered a job at the end of them? Are you feeling nervous about your next job interview and want to make sure you’re as confident and prepared as you can be? Depending on the role you’re going for, convincing your prospective employer that you’re the right person for the job isn’t always straightforward.
Before becoming a Career Coach I spent years training the managers of the companies I worked for in interviewing techniques. I have personally interviewed hundreds of people for a wide range of roles and advised on who each job should be offered to. If you want to use my knowledge and coach training to help you prepare for your next job interview, so you can stand out and take the next step in your career, get in touch to book a FREE 30-minute discovery call with me.