When trying to change careers, interviews become even more challenging.
A successful job search rests on a candidate's ability to tell a story. What are they passionate about? Where are they looking to go? What have they accomplished to date?
Sounds simple, right? The truth is, it's not, and it becomes even more difficult — and of the utmost importance — to craft the right story when attempting to change careers. This was where Cameron (name changed) found himself as he was completing his master's degree and starting a job search.
After years working in the insurance industry as an underwriter, Cameron decided it was time for him to pivot. Though he was interested in remaining in the insurance field, he saw the growing need for data to inform the industry. He decided to earn a master's degree in applied analytics and then return to insurance armed and ready to help the industry progress with the times from a new role within product or operations.
With his graduate education complete, Cameron now had the not-so-small task of convincing hiring managers that, despite his lack of on-the-job product or operations experience, his applicable insurance industry background coupled with his master's degree was a combination enticing enough to invest in him as an employee.
We paired Cameron with TopInterview coach Nick D. to make sure he was ready to sell himself in any interview.
The feedback gap
While Cameron didn't have any issue landing initial phone screens — especially after his resume makeover — he wasn't getting to the next round and he didn't know why. You know the drill: You think you've had a good (maybe even great) interview, but what does the interviewer actually think?
Hiring managers rarely give feedback, leaving job seekers to blindly infer their own strengths and weaknesses. Even recruiters have interview feedback tips they wish they could share. With little to no feedback on where he was going wrong, Cameron didn't know where he needed to improve. Was it his elevator pitch? Was it a gap in skills and experience? He was left in the dark.
“It was hard for me to assess how my interviews were being perceived by the hiring managers," explained Cameron. "Not receiving consistent feedback or any feedback was frustrating. I had no real issue landing screening phone interviews, but getting to the next round proved to be challenging.”
Introducing the TopInterview coach
The beauty of working with a TopInterview coach is that this piece of the puzzle is no longer missing. Nick conducted a mock interview with Cameron that closely mirrored those he was going to attend in real life. However, at the end, Nick provided tons of candid, actionable feedback which would help Cameron hone in on where exactly he was going wrong in his interviews — and then correct those missteps.
Interview coach Nick is also known for his thoroughness. He not only follows up coaching sessions with a detailed summary, but he also provides numerous trusted resources for his clients to review. Cameron found himself introduced to new ways to think about interview questions and with a better understanding of what hiring managers are really trying to get at when asking certain questions. The best part? He didn't have to go searching for these resources himself, knowing that he could trust the quality of what Nick was sending him.
The TopInterview experience
Was TopInterview able to help? Cameron described his experience with Nick as invaluable.
As a basis for his mock interview, Cameron sent Nick a sample job description of a role he would be interested in. Nick was then able to create a mock interview that closely simulated future interviews Cameron would be a part of, complete with tailored, targeted interview questions.
A bonus was that Cameron didn't have to feel guilty enlisting a family member or friend, or search the web endlessly for advice. Instead, he had the support of a third party (and an expert, at that) and was able to work through specific questions and receive the personal feedback which had been lacking from all his phone screens thus far.
The experience of working with a professional interview coach was beneficial and helped his confidence to soar.
“Hearing that it wasn't all bad, just a few tweaks here and there that could make a big impact in the interview, was extremely helpful to my confidence levels,” Cameron shared.
From the TopInterview coach
We sat down with Cameron's interview coach, Nick, to get a better sense of what they focused on in their sessions.
As mentioned, the feedback gap was a major blind spot for Cameron in his job search. Nick echoed this, describing that Cameron was “most perplexed by the fact that while landing interviews was relatively easy, and he had even advanced to the second round in many, the interview process wasn't proceeding from there. To add insult to injury, employers were not providing much in the way of feedback except for the usual comments: He was underqualified, they had selected a candidate who was a better fit, etc. He was frustrated and understandably so — the process was a hit to his self-confidence as he was unable to identify why he was not receiving job offers.”
However, Nick saw in Cameron what he didn't see in himself — a ton to feel confident about and be proud of.
"Before our mock interview session, I reviewed Cameron's background. His resume displayed a stable work history with eight years of experience as a Senior Insurance Underwriter/Analyst who was entrusted with team leadership responsibility."
Nick continued, "His academic background was just as impressive. He had received a bachelor's degree from Colby College graduating cum laude and had recently graduated from the prestigious New York University with a master's degree in applied analytics, achieving a 4.0 GPA. Furthermore, Cameron had developed substantial skills in programming languages and tools.”
While their first session together was spent focused on the basics — how to properly discuss his qualifications, background, and skill set and how to develop an excellent opening statement during an interview — Nick's ultimate goal was:
"... to restore Cameron's confidence and make sure in our discussion that he was positive and displayed his desire to work for the company.”
From there, Nick focused on how Cameron could nail second and final-round interviews:
"In these rounds, the questions move away from background questions and toward how the candidate would perform in the role and fit within the organization. So, we discussed his value proposition (what differentiates him from other candidates), how he stays motivated, his process for prioritizing work, how he evaluates data sources, and how he coaches his peers. We considered all of these through scenario-based questions addressed at such areas as risk management, working with diverse stakeholders, and staying current on industry trends and changes in technology.”
When you work with a TopInterview coach, you also get the unique perspective of being a fly on the all in your own coaching session:
"Through providing videos of each session, Cameron was able to view his presentation and make adjustments so he would be perceived as the most qualified and motivated candidate. As a career changer, we discussed that one way to overcome any bias would be to display an in-depth knowledge of the company and a passion for their mission that would convince the hiring team he was genuine about his intent to join and make a commitment to the company."
The happy ending
In the end, Cameron found success. He ultimately landed a position with a much more senior title, and thanks to his newfound confidence and storytelling skills, he was able to double his previous salary. We couldn't be happier for you, Cameron! Wishing you the best of luck.
Cameron also worked with a professional resume writer from TopResume. Read more about his experience here.
Want to find success like Cameron? Sign up to work with an interview coach today!