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How to Explain a Career Change in an Interview?

  • 18th May'23

Changing careers can be a big decision, and it’s natural to feel anxious when you have to explain that in an interview. After all, hiring managers want assurance that you are committed to the position they are offering and that your experience has prepared you for success. 

A well-thought-out explanation of why you chose to pursue a different career path can help persuade employers that this is the right move for both them and you. In this article, I will discuss how to craft an effective response to your career change journey so that employers understand why it makes sense for them to hire you.


How do you answer a career change in an interview?

When faced with a question about a career change, you should focus on the reasons why you made the decision and how it has been beneficial to your development. Explain what specific skills or qualities you have acquired since making the transition, and highlight any successes or accomplishments in your new field. 

Make sure to emphasize that this is an ongoing process of learning and growth – not just something you did once as a stopgap measure several years ago. Show confidence in yourself and your decision-making abilities by discussing what factors led you to change careers, such as being open-minded and willing to try something new. 

This can be a difficult conversation, but it is important to focus on being honest and articulating your answers. Acknowledge the challenges that come with switching careers and explain why you are willing to take them on. After all many internal factors can influence your career path

Focus on how your current skillsets will transfer into this new career path and talk about any experiences or qualifications you possess that make you a great fit for the role. Show enthusiasm for learning new things while demonstrating confidence in your ability to adapt. 

Finally, be prepared for follow-up questions from recruiters regarding why you are seeking employment within their organization specifically; make sure your answer emphasizes how a particular job opportunity aligns with your background experience and future goals. Above all, provide concrete examples of successes from past experiences that show an employer why they should invest in you as their next employee!


An example to help you explain career change

There are numerous ways to explain a career change but always try to be realistic and honest while answering. For example, if you are pursuing a career in medicine and you want to switch to business consulting, then this is how you should answer: 

“While growing up, my parents encouraged me to pursue a career in medicine. It was a field that had always interested me, and I felt it would allow me to make an impact. However, with time I realized that while medicine could be incredibly rewarding, it wasn't the right fit for me personally.

Hence, I decided to transition into business consulting. This new path allows me to use my skillset in different ways than before while still making an impact in people’s lives through project management advice or strategy recommendations. This change has allowed me to take on more responsibility with less structure than medical practice offers - something which ultimately makes my work more enjoyable and rewarding for both myself and those around me.”

It is more important for the interviewer to find out if you are just looking for a new job or an entire change in your career path. You must explain this in detail to your interviewer.


Handling difficult questions in an interview


Addressing gaps in your resume

One way to handle gaps is to stay positive and try not to get defensive. Be honest and don't hide any information; instead, focus on the skills you have gained during that time by highlighting relevant experiences or activities, such as volunteer work or educational courses. 

If there are still lingering questions, express your willingness to discuss them further for the interviewer to gain a better understanding of your situation. Finally, shift the conversation back toward your qualifications for the job at hand to close the interview on a strong note.


Explaining any potential red flags or concerns

When addressing any potential red flags or concerns, try to focus on solutions rather than excuses. Explain how you’ve worked through the issue in the past and showcase your growth as a result of it. 

Additionally, discuss what steps you’re taking now to ensure that similar issues do not arise again in the future. Showing that you have taken proactive measures will demonstrate your commitment to self-improvement and could potentially help ease any reservations an interviewer may have about hiring you for the position.


In conclusion, explaining a career change in an interview can be challenging, but it is important to present your point with confidence and enthusiasm. It is also essential to have a clear understanding of the reasons behind your decision so you can explain them confidently. 

Focus on emphasizing the skills and experiences relevant to the job you are applying for while framing your transition as a positive step forward in achieving your career goals. 

This will help both employers and recruiters understand how this new role fits into your broader professional journey.

Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds to achieve their aspirations in careers and life. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.

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