Changing Careers – How to Interview Effectively

changing careers Changing careers is not easy for some. However, once you master effective interviewing when changing careers, the path to success becomes a lot clearer.

I had a chance to interview one of our Executive Authors, Helena Light, who is a master at changing careers. In eight years at one bank, she had four different careers:

  1. Public Relations for Corporate and Consumer
  2. Human Resources for Corprorate – Employee Rewards
  3. Loan Underwriting for Paper Businesses
  4. Research Analysts of Insurance Companies

What is her secret? Knowing how to interview effectively. Listen to this quick 5 minute recording about how she successfully and seamlessly had four very different jobs at the same bank in eight years time. You can also read the Audio Transcription of our conversation below.


This is part 2 of the candid conversation I and with Helena. See parts 1 and 3 of my candid conversation with Helena here:

  1. How to Keep Your Job During Massive Layoffs
  2. A Necessary Skill for Every Senior Executive

Your comments:  How will you interview differently when/if you change your career?  Share your comments below and let’s have a discussion.

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Best wishes to your career success!  I am always in your corner


Audio Transcription of Our Conversation

Lei: Can I ask you how many jobs you had in the 8 years? Because I’m curious…

Helena: [Laughs] You know, I knew you were gonna ask me that. And let’s see, I did PR corporate, PR consumer. The next job I had was corporate – back to the corporate side, which I happened to love being on the corporate level.

I had two jobs, and it was customer service on the corporate level for customers who were very, very upset with something that was going on at the bank.

Lei: Okay.

Helena: Very similar to PR, because of a lot of…

Lei: Right. Issue resolution, high emotion situation.

Helena: Issue resolution. And the other was a rewards program, there’s an employee rewards program that was just initiated. So I knew that, when I took that job, it was new, it was relevant, it was short–it was probably gonna be a little bit short term.

The rewards program, once it’s setup, and it’s going, and it’s through the culture, and through the bank… You know, I knew I was gonna be safe there.

And then I moved on and I went to the corporate side, and I did–I worked in the loans area. So we–I was working in the paper division. So in other words, the bank gave money to paper companies, loaned money to corporations, right?

Lei: Okay, okay. Oh, I see. Okay.

Helena: And I would do the decision making about that, you know? Whether…

Lei: You have a finance background as well as…?

Helena: Yes.

Lei: Because when you first said you were in PR, I was actually expecting for you to say you were in finance.

Helena: Yeah.

Lei: Wow, okay.

Helena: Yeah, so that got me into the finance area, right? And then I learned a lot there. And that was a great job because all of those corporations, whether it was paper, or consumer, or it was whatever… A corporation needed money, that was going ot be on-going by the bank.

Lei: Oh, wow.

Helena: So I was safe there and I stayed there for quite a while. And then I heard about a new job…

Lei: You have more?

Helena: Yes.

Lei: Oh my gosh.

Helena: And then I heard about a new job that involved research of insurance companies that the bank was loaning money to. Now that was relevant to me because I have an insurance background.

Lei: You do, before this bank?

Helena: Yes, before this bank.

Lei: Oh, I see.

Helena: So then I…

Lei: But in PR, or you…?

Helena: No, no. I worked at an insurance and re-insurance business for many years, in fact I have a degree in insurance. I have a lot of certifications in insurance.

Lei: I didn’t even know that.

Helena: In property and casualty, specifically. And here was the bank loaning money to insurance companies, and who’s better to fit than to analyze insurance companies?

So they put me through a training program, which was very elitist. That was my last job at the bank and that really worked well.

Lei: Let me summarize that because I heard PR, which is more in marketing. I heard HR, which kind of had an employee rewards.

Helena: Correct.

Lei: I heard loan underwriting.

Helena: Correct.

Lei: And then I heard insurance assessment of who’s good, you know…

Helena: Who should we loan money to.

Lei: Right.

Helena: And should we continue to loan at this level, or should we up it, or down, yeah.

Lei: So you had four different–almost four different careers in the 8 years?

Helena: Careers, correct.

Lei: I have so many questions now. One, how did you… I think I get this question a lot from people. Like, how do you pivot into different careers? And you came from insurance to PR. How do you manage that in a way that makes sense for them to go, “Oh, yeah, of course you should be in this.”

Helena: [Laughs]

Lei: But how do you do it so that it seems seamless, and you had a full-on goal of your own to maintain the job. What’s the secret?

Helena: Well, how did I get the PR job?

Lei: What’s the secret of pivoting so well, and not…

Helena: I don’t know if there’s a secret. I think it’s–actually, there is a secret, and the secret is being a very good interviewer. That’s the ticket.

Lei: Yes, yeah.

Helena: And convincing them… And believe me, with some of these jobs, you’re interviewed by a number of people.

Lei: Absolutely.

Helena: And convincing them that you’re enthusiastic, intelligent, relevant, that you have the skill level.

Lei: Right.

Helena: Of course they can check on you.

Lei: Right.

Helena: Because they can go back to…

Lei: Oh yeah. You can’t lie.

Helena: You know, you can’t hide anything.

Lei: Yeah, right.

Helena: Because they can ask.

Lei: Right.

Helena: I think that’s the main thing is, you know, when you show interest, and enthusiasm, and support – that’s another one.

Lei: Well, it sounds like you were able to come to them, weaving a story that they can believe. When I coach people on interviewing, it’s not so much you have to have the perfect background.

Helena: Exactly.

Lei: It is very much about how you’ve thought about, in their shoes, what they’re looking for and how does your background uniquely fits that, and you deliver the story with so much confidence, and enthusiasm, that it is completely… You’ve lead them to water and it’s up to them to decide, do they believe it? Are they interested? And not every company or, you know, department would.

Helena: Right.

Lei: But you have to do all that work first.

Helena: Yes.

Lei: And almost like, you gotta believe it yourself before you can deliver it.

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