5 Career Change Interview Questions That Work

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated August 22, 2022

Research shows that almost half of the UK workforce would like a career change. With so many workers looking for new opportunities, your business will likely interview more career changers than ever. That’s where behaviour-based interview questions come in. They focus on real-life experiences rather than hypothetical situations. We’ve compiled a list of 5 effective career change interview questions to find the best talent for your business.  

The benefits of hiring a career change candidate are huge. Most career changers have already developed a valuable transferable skillset and professional experience. What’s more, career changers bring a fresh perspective and a diverse outlook. For more information on how to attract career changers to your business, check out our dedicated guide

What Are Behavioural Interview Questions?

As the name suggests, behavioural interview questions focus on behaviours rather than qualifications. Put another way, they are non-technical questions designed to learn how candidates behave in different workplace scenarios.

Behavioural interview questions are designed to prompt candidates to share real-life examples of when they have used specific skills. They are popular amongst interviewers because they give a more realistic idea of how candidates work and navigate workplace situations. Moreover, they require candidates to demonstrate their skills based on their past work performance rather than give theoretical answers. Finally, they create a space for candidates to showcase who they are through storytelling.

Career Change Interview Questions: The Benefits Of Behavioural Interview Questions 

Employing the wrong candidate costs businesses considerable time, money, and resources. Therefore, it’s important to get the interview right. Behavioural interview questions help to drill down to the key information: how a candidate performs. In doing so, interviews are more structured and based on tangible examples rather than hypothetical questions and answers.

Behaviour-based interview questions are particularly effective when interviewing a career changer. This is because career changers typically have a wealth of experience and transferable skills but little practical knowledge. By asking career changers behaviour-based interview questions, you allow them to demonstrate how their previous experience and skills could benefit your business. 

5 Career Change Interview Questions Based On Behaviours

According to LinkedIn, the following soft skills are in high demand in 2022:

  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork 
  • Time management

To help you identify if your candidates have these valuable skills, we’ve compiled a list of 5 essential interview questions for career changers.

1. Adaptability

From the global pandemic to financial crises, businesses must constantly adapt to change. As a result, recruiting adaptable workers is crucial. Not only will they be more resilient during times of turmoil, but they will be able to pivot with the business when necessary. For many employers, adaptability is worth more than most technical skills. So, here are some behaviour-based interview questions that show adaptability. 

  • Give us an example of a situation when you had to think on your feet at work. 
  • Describe a time when you failed. How did you handle that situation?
  • Tell us about a time in your professional career when your company was going through big changes. How did you adapt?

2. Communication

Almost every employer will agree that good communication skills are hugely important. From writing emails to giving feedback to expressing ideas, we communicate constantly. Interestingly though, 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time. Since it is such a difficult skill to train, recruiting candidates who demonstrate excellent communication skills can significantly improve your business. These behavioural interview questions test candidates’ ability to communicate effectively.

  • Tell us about a time when you had a difficult conversation with a colleague or manager. How did you deal with the situation?
  • Give us an example of a situation where you used your communication skills to get your idea across.
  • Describe your most successful presentation. Why was it a success?

3. Leadership

Great leaders are hard to come by. To lead a team successfully takes years of experience and a strong arsenal of soft skills. That’s why career changers are such a valuable asset to organisations. Many career changers come with leadership experience. Although their experience may lie in a different industry, they have the valuable attributes all good leaders need to possess.

When evaluating a candidate’s leadership skills, it’s essential to understand their values, leadership style, and motivators. These behavioural-based questions do just that.

  • Tell us about a time when you led your team through a difficult challenge. What steps did you take?
  • Describe a time when you identified a problem and took action to correct it.
  • Give us an example of a situation you could have handled better as a leader. What would you have done differently?

4. Teamwork

Practically every job role out there requires some degree of teamwork. As such, it’s essential to understand how applicants work as part of a team. Try these questions to help you identify how the interviewee behaves in a team environment.

  • Describe a challenging teamwork situation you have faced and how you handled it.
  • Tell us about a time you have had a conflict with a co-worker. How did you resolve it?
  • Give us an example of a time you had to work closely with a colleague with a very different working style than yours. How did you deal with it?

5. Time Management

Time management has always been a desirable soft skill. But, as remote working becomes increasingly popular, it’s more in demand than ever. Employees who can manage their time are more productive and organised for your business. Moreover, they require less micro-management – a leading cause of a toxic work environment. When employees don’t know how to manage their time effectively, they tend to be less efficient and more likely to burn out

Career changers typically have vast professional experience and are therefore likely to have strong time management skills. Try asking these interview questions to analyse their ability to manage their time.

  • Tell us about a time when you juggled several projects at once. How did you handle the situation?
  • Describe a time that you set yourself a professional goal. How did you achieve it?
  • Give us an example of a project you’ve worked on that required you to manage your time carefully. Talk us through what steps you took.

Final Thoughts

As the number of career changers in the UK continues to rise, businesses have a unique opportunity to recruit highly-skilled talent. Having said that, since most career changers come from different industries, recruiters must adapt their interview questions. 

For example, interviewers should focus on behaviours instead of typical questions based on technical skills or hypothetical situations. Behaviour-based interview questions allow career changers to showcase their vast transferable skills and experience through real-life examples. As such, interviewers better understand how a candidate will perform on the job.

Refreshing a Career is packed with valuable tips and resources for employers to help you attract great talent to your business. Be sure to check out what employer services we can provide your company, including advertising your roles on our unique career change jobs board. Alternatively, get in touch to see how we can help.

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Last Updated: Wednesday September 7 2022
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