Changing career: Preparing for your first interview in decades

Going for an interview might not seem like a big deal for many of us. But when you’re a seasoned professional who's eager to change careers after years of faithful service at the same company, just the thought of an interview can make you feel like a fish out of water.

Despite your wealth of knowledge and your fantastic skill set, times will have undoubtedly changed since you were last in this position and you may feel that your age is putting you at a disadvantage.

Yes, there is a strong possibility that you will be competing with younger candidates for the role you want. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t stand a chance. Businesses are more open-minded than ever about hiring older workers and taking advantage of their skills and experience in order to tackle the current skills shortage.

Research carried out by the London School of Business and Finance has also discovered that 43% of UK workers aged between 45-55 years old are actively looking for new challenges and opportunities. In fact, there are more people over 50 in particular changing careers than ever before. This should give you the confidence that changing career in your 40s, 50s or 60s is not impossible and that you stand as good a chance as anyone of reinvigorating your work life.

However, before you reach those greener pastures you’ve been longing for and as much as you might be dreading it, you’ve got to get through the interview. While you probably know that you need to dress the part and be on time, here’s a few more key things that you can do to get yourself interview ready.

Sign up to LinkedIn

In recent years, LinkedIn has become a key social network for professionals across all industries and there is a strong possibility that the interviewer will try to find your LinkedIn profile before the interview. So if you haven’t already, sign up and get your profile set up on LinkedIn as soon as you can.

This is a perfect opportunity for you to make an impression before even meeting the interviewer. As well as adding in a professional and contemporary profile photo, fill in each section with concise, relevant information relating to your current and previous roles and the skills and qualifications you possess.

Go one step further by learning how to use LinkedIn Groups where you can share your expertise with others or alternatively learn how to create and post blogs on your profile. Connect with professionals in your current industry to help keep your skills up to date and don’t be afraid to comment and share posts you find interesting. Doing all of this will demonstrate that you’re eager to learn and to help others, while also being tech-savvy.

Another benefit of using LinkedIn is that you can use it to research and connect with the employer you’re having the interview with and if possible, the person who is interviewing you. This can give you some fantastic insight and knowledge that could come in handy during your interview.

Learn more about the latest interview methods

It’s no secret that over the past decade, interviews have become a lot tougher and more diverse. Long gone are the days of just a simple Q&A. To find the best possible talent, companies will often put their candidates through several stages of interviews, each using varying questioning methods. These could range from situational to behavioural to opinion-based questions depending on the organisation’s preferences and the role you’re interviewing for.

The format might also differ during each stage. There could be a dragons den style panel or a group interview where you go head to head with other candidates. You might have to complete competency tests or have to create and present a presentation that provides a solution to a problem. The possibilities are endless.

So to make sure that you cover all bases, it’s crucial that you get clued up on interview questioning techniques that you might not have come across in the past and how best to answer them. You can do this by looking online, by asking for advice from a recruitment agency or by talking to the hiring managers at your current workplace. It could also be beneficial to think back to interviews you might have conducted in the past and the techniques you used- the person interviewing you may very well be using the same ones.

Prepare answers for several different questioning styles, so even if they use multiple questioning techniques during your interview you aren’t caught out.

Anticipate some obstacles

No matter what type of interview method or questioning your interviewer chooses, you won’t be able to avoid questions about why you’re deciding to change career now and why you’ve been in the same company for so long. It’s inevitable that some hiring managers will be cautious about hiring someone who may have worked in the same company for decades. They might see it as a slight disadvantage, so it’s your job to convince them otherwise.

Have success stories prepared that you can draw upon when these questions arise that show that you’ve have held different roles, worked for different people or business changes during this time. Use examples that demonstrate skills that are relevant to your prospective employer’s business needs and future goals too. Don’t forget to also prepare a thorough answer as to why you now feel that is the time to move on from your current role and what you have to offer that others might not.

So instead of entering the interview filled with nerves and doubt, use these tips to help you get primed and ready for your first interview in decades. Things might have changed, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not up to the challenge. So ignore your inner saboteur and enter the room with a level of confidence that can only be achieved through decades of hard work. After all, age is but a number.

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13th July

Career Advice