Common Interview Question – How Will Your Past Experiences Translate to This Job?
It is always hard to change careers. You spend X years of your life focused on expanding your career in a particular field, and then suddenly you are switching to a completely new field, with new people, new work and new experiences. Even if the job is somewhat related, new careers are still new careers, and that means that you have to do your best to adapt.
That is why one of the hardest interview questions for you to answer is going to be how your past experiences will translate to your new position. They are not similar jobs, yet you need to do your best to explain why they should be considered relevant for your new role, especially if you are applying to something above entry level.
How to Answer
Your best bet is to both focus on your greatest accomplishment and minimize the differences between jobs, when possible. Don’t focus on the negatives. Focus only on the possibilities and relevancies, and the aspects of your work history that show you to be a great employee. If you cannot think of any key reasons, try your best to relate your experiences to the main roles in the new job. If your answer is too broad, you can drastically harm your job interview chances.
“Even though I am new to the field, I am a hard worker and a fast learner. I am confident that I can do the job well and that I will easily take on the responsibilities handed to me. I love a challenge and I am ready to take on the work ahead.”
This is a roundabout way of saying you have no idea how it translates. This is bad.
“The position is looking for someone that is self-motivated. At WorkTech, most of my job required independent action. I spent over a year working diligently every day until the release of ProgramX. You are also looking for someone with proficiency in both DataNet and Organizware. When I was at Worktech, I was skilled with ResearchSoft, which is a program similar to Datanet, and I have experience with Spreadware, which is a client management program based off the same coding as Organizeware…”
This discusses specific aspects of the job description, and uses specific examples of how your past experiences are related. Poor pseudonyms aside, the above example will easily showcase how you are prepared for the role, despite the programs and work being considerably different. This is a much better answer.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Don’t focus on where you lack.
- Don’t provide generic answers.
- Focus on the specific position and use examples from your past that will give the employer confidence in your ability to take on the new work.