Interview Tips for Changing Industries

Interview Tips for Changing Industries

Ready to make the leap and change industries? If you’re going to make a big move, now is the time.

Since the start of the Great Resignation, companies have struggled to hire staff. This means that they’re more likely to consider candidates with solid, transferable skills, that they may not have considered in the past.

And what’s even more important than technical or industry-specific skills these days? Transferable skills and soft skills. 

But you can’t go into an interview in a new industry with no game plan. We’ve got a few interview tips for changing industries to help you nail the interview — even if you don’t have all the “traditional” skills in a new industry. 

Answering the Inevitable: Why do you want to change industries?

This is a tough question — and one you shouldn’t necessarily answer off the cuff. 

You know why you want to change industries on an emotional level. But emotionally driven answers should always be analyzed before uttering them out loud in an interview. 

We’re going to talk about the “don’ts” of answering this question in a minute, but first let’s talk about some interview tips “dos” for changing industries. 

Do focus on your excitement for your new industry.

Do talk about your resilience and desire for change.

Do show interest and curiosity for potential workplaces. 

Do say that you want to grow with the company.

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Don’t Focus on the Past

The more you focus on the past when answering this question, the more likely you are to talk about what you didn’t like about your last industry or job.

Recruiters understand that any industry can turn into a “bad fit” for a candidate. 

You want to show that you have the emotional intelligence to remain in your current role; your desire for change should come from a natural curiosity and interest in a new industry (not because you couldn’t handle the old one anymore). 

What you don’t want is for the interviewer to suspect you might change your mind and want to switch industries again in the next few years.

You will need to talk about your past (specifically how your skills are relative to your new industry) but you don’t want to focus on why you’re leaving — instead, focus on what attracts you to the new industry.

Don’t Trash Talk

Again, it’s just too easy to focus on what you didn’t like about your last industry than what’s appealing about the new one. 

“Don’t trash talk” seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many candidates slip into negative narratives when they’re not prepared. 

You need to work harder than those who are already working in this new industry to prove that you’re ready to make the change. 

Don’t Admit You Were Bored

Even if you were. Yes, it’s understandable if you’re changing industries because you felt stagnant in the last one. Yes, employers want workers who want to be challenged on a daily basis.

But let’s face it: not every minute of every day will be exciting — in any industry. You’ll need to have the skills to push through even when the work is boring. 

If you admit you were bored at your last job, the interviewer may take it as a sign you need too much change to feel satisfied at any job. 

Interview Tips for Changing Industries

interview tips for changing industries

Need interview tips for transitioning careers or changing industries? Here are four interview tips that will help you answer the question, “Why do you want to change industries?” 

Highlight Transferable Skills & Soft Skills

This is so important when changing industries. You may need to work harder than other candidates to prove that you have the skills to perform a job in a new industry.

The good news is that you may also have an edge over your competition: if you’re able to quantify your transferable skills, you may actually be more qualified than other candidates. 

Highlight any transferable skills — especially soft skills — that show you have the chops to make this transition and that your new team needs your fresh perspective. 

Let’s say you’re trying to get into the tech industry and you previously worked in PR. Highlight communication, organizational, and time management skills. 

Show Interest in Company Culture

While you should never “trash talk” the company culture in your old industry, show interest and excitement for the culture in the industry you’re trying to break into. 

Companies are worried now more than ever before about a loss of company culture, especially since they’ve been transitioning to remote and hybrid work models. One reason to hire a candidate from another industry would be because that person might help solidify the culture within a team. 

Talk About How You’re In It for the Long-Haul

The Great Resignation means companies are dealing with expensive turnover right now, and this is something they greatly want to avoid in the future. 

If you want to stand out when applying for a job, you’re already going to need to work hard to prove that you’re an asset (and not a risk) to your new team. 

Mention How You Handle Change

You’ll need to show recruiters you have the agility to handle the change of moving to a new industry. Again, use quantifiable examples of when you were able to thrive in the face of a big change. 

But don’t forget to mention you don’t need change in order to thrive. 

You don’t want the hiring manager to pass because they’re afraid you might be a high turnover risk. 

And if you’re feeling a little nervous about answering interview questions about your industry switch? Experiencing difficulties finding a job? Join Rise, a community of career experts who can help you with practice interviews and nailing those tricky industry questions.

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