Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How Do I Video Interview…Candidates Changing Careers?

Every candidate comes with their own set of unique interviewing challenges. That’s why we’re tackling how to video interview different types of candidates with this how-to series. Today, we’ll be talking about how to use video interviews to connect with candidates looking to change careers. Just because the candidate is looking to hop onto another career path doesn’t mean they’re not the perfect talent for your organization.

Many companies will avoid speaking with candidates who are making a career change, but these candidates blazing a new career path might be just what your company needs.

Here are a few reasons why your company shouldn’t just write off candidates changing careers:

  • They are likely to bring a fresh perspective to your organization. They’re not mired in the way things are usually done in your industry, so they might have some outside-the-box solutions.
  • They are passionate about their new career. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have given up their former career to start at the bottom in a new one.
  • They go after what they want, even if it’s difficult. It’s not easy to start a new career journey, but these candidates understand being happy and fulfilled at work is worth the inconvenience.
  • They’re an entry-level steal! These candidates can sometimes come with years of work experience, and yet since they’re just starting out in your industry, they’ll need to start near the bottom and work their way up. So, you gain an eager worker and someone with experience for the price of an entry-level candidate.

Now that you’re convinced you shouldn’t slam the door on candidates switching career paths, just how can you tell if they’re right for your organization in the video interview? After all, if they’ve switched their career path before, what’s to stop them switching careers again and leaving your company?

Here are a few things you should look for in the video interview when evaluating candidates stepping onto a new career path:

Why Do They Want to Switch?
The decision to switch to a new career path is not one most people take lightly. Workers spend years developing their careers and rising up the corporate ladder. All of this goes out the window as soon as you decide to hop on another career path. Like in the board games we used to play as children, starting down a new career path often means going back to the beginning. Find out why your candidate is willing to make this sacrifice in the video interview.

Ask why they decided to make the switch and what it is about the company or industry which makes them so sure it’s the right fit. This is an opportunity to really discover where their passion lies and how much they really understand about your career sector. Maybe they have an idealized version of your industry. Make sure they understand what they would be getting themselves into by taking the job and that they are excited and ready to jump in.

What Makes Them Qualified?
Just because a candidate is willing to start at the bottom and work their way up in a new industry doesn’t mean they actually have the transferable skills you need to fill your position. Passion and enthusiasm are great, but there has to be a certain amount of workable knowledge to make this candidate a good fit for the job. You don’t want to hire a fledgling graphic designer who doesn’t know how to use Adobe Photoshop, for instance.

In the video interview, make sure the candidate can display the skills you need for the position. Many skills can be taught, especially if the candidate is starting out at the bottom, but there are certainly more than a few things you need an employee to already know. After all, you don’t want your workers spending all their free time educating a new team member.

How Do They Feel About Starting At The Bottom?
It’s unlikely your candidate will be able to find a position on the same level as their prior job, especially if they’re committed to switching careers. This means they will not only be taking a cut in responsibilities and title, but also in pay.

It’s important to use the video interview to find out just how eager this candidate really is to join your company. Are they willing to take a pay cut to start down their new career path? Have they thought about the implications of making less money? Make sure your candidate has carefully considered the financial repercussions of this change, or they might just switch back to an industry in which they can attain a higher salary.

Candidates who are ready for a change of pace in their careers can become eager employees ready to try their hardest to work up a new career ladder. It’s important, however, to use the video interview to focus on why they’re making the switch and if they have the relevant skills, so you don’t end up with an employee who flies the coop again.

What are some ways to evaluate candidates changing careers in the video interview? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by pkdon50.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).