Tough Interview Question - Why are you applying for a job in a field outside your current career or college major?

Why are you applying for a job in a field outside your current career or college major?

Similar interview questions:
What is it about this job that interests you?
Why would you leave behind all of your prior experience and education to do this work?
How do your qualifications cross over into this field or industry?
What is your motivation for switching careers?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The question is being asked because you are perceived to be a non-traditional candidate. The interviewer wants to know how your previous background in non-related roles and/or education may tie in with the role as well as your motivations for pursuing such a role.

The best approach to answering this question:
You need to do your best to connect your experience and/or education to the role, even though they may not necessarily be directly related in a traditional sense. Look for the aspects of your experience and/or your education that connect you to this role. Ideally, use this as a platform to discuss how your background makes you unique for the role. Then discuss your motivation for the role as a long-term player, not just as a stepping stone role.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"My work experience in auditing is related to the financial work required for this Financial Analyst role. So while my background may not be traditional for the role, it has prepared me with a unique set of skills which few candidates would bring to the role. As an experienced Auditor, I know what to look for underneath the numbers which most Financial Analyst candidates simply accept at face value. My background and training gives me special insights which will be highly beneficial for the role. As an example, during my recent audit of __________, I was able to identify…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"My degree in communications has given me a broad foundation for being successful in a Sales role with your firm. Sales success is about the ability to communicate with the customer and close the sale. As an example of this, my recent internship had a component which involved selling existing customers on expanding the use of our services…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, I found out that my degree is pretty much useless for getting a job, so I’m pretty much applying for any job that I can get. You were the first ones to actually call me back for an interview, so here I am…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these 100 Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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