Avoid These 5 Big Mistakes When Interviewing Career Changers

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated February 14, 2024

Career changers are growing in numbers across the UK. And with more and more people making a career transition, employers must update hiring practices to leverage top talent from diverse backgrounds. With this in mind, we examine some common interview mistakes made by employers which can lead to promising candidates being overlooked. 

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift in the way people want to work. The workforce of today holds flexibility as one of the most important aspects of a job. So much so, that in 2023, 4 million workers changed careers due to a lack of flexibility at work. This enormous talent pool comes with a wealth of experience, transferable skills, passion, and motivation to succeed. Employers can take advantage of this simply by asking the right questions during the interview process.

We take an in-depth look at common pitfalls and how to avoid them when interviewing career changers.

5 Interview Mistakes With Career Changers

Gone are the days when employers incorrectly labelled career changers. Here at Refreshing a Career, we see the wealth of benefits that changing careers offers both the worker and the prospective employer. 

Unfortunately, many employers will make some common interview mistakes during the recruitment process. Here’s how to avoid making them.

1. Recognise transferable skills

A major recruitment mistake is focusing too narrowly on industry-specific experience. This is short-sighted as the majority of career changers possess transferable skills that they honed in previous roles. These skills are directly applicable to positions across multiple industries and include:

  • communication
  • analytical thinking
  • leadership
  • project management
  • collaboration

All characteristics of a top employee, right? Therefore, as an employer, you must recognise these transferable skills for the strengths they are. For instance, an accountant turned marketer likely excels at numerical analysis and data-driven decision-making. The key is to simply keep an open mind.

Learn more about How to Evaluate Career Changers’ Transferable Skills

2. Acknowledge enthusiasm and motivation

Never assume that a career change implies a lack of commitment. As we mentioned above, many people switch roles to strike a better work/life balance. This involves careful self-reflection and shows how motivated the person is to succeed in their chosen field. After all, making a career change is not something to be taken lightly. 

As such, employers should view career changers as candidates who are willing to retrain and upskill, thus becoming more valuable assets for your business. During interviews, keep an eye out for genuine excitement. By asking behavioural questions, you can more accurately assess the candidate’s determination and ambition.

Check out these 5 Career Change Interview Questions That Work →

3. Provide adequate onboarding support

Too often, employers don’t put enough time and resources into training career changers post-hiring. Someone who has made a career change may require extra guidance transitioning into new roles. The key is prioritising clear onboarding processes by outlining responsibilities, growth paths, and success metrics. 

Assigning formal mentors who know how to onboard career changers is a great way to connect new hires to teams and learning resources. It’s also wise to schedule regular check-ins where you can communicate openly about challenges while also highlighting their achievements. All in all, having a solid onboarding programme dramatically improves employee retention.

Find out how to Retain Career Changers: 6 Strategies That Work →

4. Keep communication open

Make sure everyone’s on the same page about what’s expected from them right from the get-go and keep the conversation flowing. If things get lost in translation, career changers might feel a bit thrown off if what’s happening doesn’t match up with what was first talked about. 

Have real talks about goals, what needs working on, and the wins to build trust and make sure everyone’s in the same boat. Open up channels so new hires can ask anything without feeling like they’re being judged and give feedback helpfully and constructively.

Need more help? Check out our Ultimate Career Development Framework →

5. Don’t get stuck on job titles

Job titles have changed dramatically over the last few decades. So, don’t rule out candidates just because their old job titles don’t match up perfectly with what you’re looking for. Instead of getting stuck on job titles, take a look at the transferable skills we mentioned above and what they’ve achieved – that’s where you’ll find the real indicators of success. 

For instance, a software programmer transitioning into analytics or a journalist moving into communications might excel, even if their titles don’t match up exactly. Sometimes, the most impactful hires are the ones who bring a bit of a different perspective!

Need some Tips for Advertising Career Change Jobs?

Key Takeaways

Hiring career changers can bring huge value to your business. Transferable skills, a wealth of experience, and a real passion to succeed should not be overlooked. By avoiding these common interview mistakes, you’re much more likely to land the ideal career change candidate, giving your business the boost it may just need.

Are you an employer looking to advertise your career change jobs? Our team of experts at Refreshing a Career can help you invest in your people while growing your business.

Here’s what we offer:

  • Advice and support – Our website is packed with guides for employers, including advice on attracting career changers, building a diverse work environment, and more. Find the latest industry insights on our blog
  • Attract career change talent – Get in touch to advertise your roles on our dedicated career change job board.
  • Find diverse talent – Our job advert inclusivity screening tests your ad against our “Inclusive Language Checklist” to remove potentially discriminatory language.
  • Advertise your business – Our talented team of writers works with you to create a company profile that documents your efforts as a top employer of professionals who want to make a career change.

For more information, email us at info@refreshingacareer.com or give us a call at 0345 872 4501. We’d be more than happy to offer guidance on advertising career change jobs with us.

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 27 2024
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