On a Non-Linear Career Path? Here’s How To Handle Your Next Interview


Worried that you do not have a clearly defined career path for your future? You are not alone: a recent LinkedIn study showed that, even after ten years in the workforce, nearly half of all workers are not sure what their career path should look like. While it is tempting to consider your career as a ladder you should always be climbing, taking a non-linear path may actually yield better results for your career. When it comes time to interview for a job considered either a lateral move, or even a step down on the ladder, here are some tips on how to handle yourself during the interview:

Present Your Move in a Broader Career Path

There are many reasons people make non-linear moves in their career. An Ivy League report recently stated that the average professional is willing to sacrifice 8% of their pay to work from home, or maybe you are one of the 25% that LinkedIn found feels like you are on a “treadmill to nowhere” at your current job. Hiring Managers will have questions as to why you may be making a lateral move, or why you are willing to take a step down the career ladder, and you want to answer them by talking about how it fits into your broader career plan, hitting on where you hope to go with this job. Of course, mentioning that you want to take this journey with their company is important as well.

Remember to Show Your Excitement for the Job

While Hiring Managers may show an interest in why you are making a non-linear move, it is important that you show them why you are the right candidate for the job for which you are applying. Do not let the interview veer too far into talk about your overall career path; sell them on the skills and experience that make you the ideal person for the job. For example, if they ask why you are leaving a job, give them an answer that briefly touches on your need for a change, and that you handled it professionally, while bringing it back to a place where you can show your enthusiasm for the job:

“I understand why you would ask that. This may seem like a step back for me if you just look at titles. I am interested in much more than titles though. I am really about the work. I see an exciting future for myself here, and I believe this position is the exact right move for me right now.”

Make Them Recognize Your Cross-Over Skills

Skills are transferrable, and many of the skills you learned in your last job will be relevant in the job for which you are applying, even if you are starting in a new profession. Job Matching is a great way to emphasize your cross-over skills, and to show that you have what it takes to excel at the job. A quick look at the job ad will give you a handy guide as to what you need to hit on, both in your application and your interview, to show you are the ideal candidate.

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