Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
6 Questions to Ask Candidates Making a Career Change

6 Questions to Ask Candidates Making a Career Change

In a new study of more than 3,500 women in the InHerSight network, a whopping 57 percent reported they’re seriously considering a career change. Meanwhile, another 32 percent are potentially considering a career change. Those career changes have to come from somewhere, and while these numbers seem alarmingly high, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on average, men held 12.5 jobs and women held 12.1 jobs from ages 18 to 52. 

Whether it’s due to loss of job satisfaction or to break away from merely “going through the motions,” a successful career change requires a lot more than enthusiasm. Many candidates looking to make career changes are highly talented and passionate about their move. However, leaping into a new career means their skills and experiences don’t always directly align with the open role’s requirements. 

As a hiring pro, these candidates shouldn’t be avoided. Instead, you should focus on the right interview questions to determine if a candidate making a career change is the correct person for your open role.  

These questions will ensure you get the full picture:

1. What skills from your current/former role do you believe are transferable?

On paper, a candidate’s skills may not seem like the perfect fit when it comes to a career change. Allow candidates to reveal the connections they’ve made between their skill set and the role they’re interviewing for. Moving beyond skills, this is also an opportunity for candidates to share their perception of the role’s tasks and their capabilities.  

2. Why are you interested in a career change?

This is the golden question for assessing the potential hire’s motivation level to modify their career path. It’s essential to uncover whether talent is in it for the long haul or just the short term. Ask career change candidates to lay out their passions about the industry, what led them to your organization, their experiences outside of work, and anything else fitting.

3. What value will you bring to this role?

This question encourages candidates to open up about all of their past experiences and skills. It also allows you to see the passion and drive they bring to the table, which is essential to thriving during a career change. Questions about value help you assess whether the candidate is a fit for your company culture, too.

4. What hurdles do you think you’d have to overcome if offered this role?

Is the candidate prepared to face the many obstacles involved in transitioning to a new role and industry? Sometimes charisma and excitement for a career change get in the way of reality. Career changes can be mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging. Make sure the candidate is ready for the potential of what lies ahead. 

5. How would you overcome those hurdles?

Once the candidate has detailed potential hurdles they are aware of, find out how they anticipate overcoming them. This requires forethought and planning. Look for signs they’ve already begun preparing for these hurdles and are open to learning. 

6. What training opportunities are you open to?

Training is essential to a career change. Of course, most candidates will say they’re eager for training opportunities. However, directly asking what opportunities they’d be open to reveals if they know what skills they need to work on. It also shows you if they understand what skills they need to excel in this new field and new role.


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 5,000+ customers in over 100 countries.