Job interviews are always tough, but they’re even tougher if you’re switching careers. What do you do if you don’t have direct experience in the job or industry that the interviewer is asking about? That’s what we tackle in this edition of the Daughters of Rosie Hands-on Interview Question of the Month.
Interviews are important for manufacturing positions because they are a chance to showcase your hands-on skills and knowledge that are vital for success. If you haven’t had a hands-on manufacturing job before, your interviewer will want to know why you’d like to make the transition to a new career and what makes you qualified for the position. The good news is that if you spend some time now thinking about your answer, you’ll be prepared by the time you’re at the interview. This question, or a version of it, might be something you are asked during the interview:
“Since you haven’t worked in a manufacturing position before, what qualifications or skills do you have that would be relevant to this job?”
If you are asked this and haven’t had a hands-on job before, don’t panic! You probably have lots of relevant experiences, and you just need to take a moment to explain them.
The first thing to do is to figure out what skills and qualifications are needed on the job. Read the job description closely and spend some time on the company website. Maybe the company is looking for someone who cares about details and can use small hand tools. Or, maybe someone experienced with power tools is a better fit.
Once you know what the company is looking for, you can brainstorm to find experiences that would be relevant:
Whatever you do, don’t say you’ve never done anything hands-on before. You definitely have had some hands-on experiences! Think hard about your previous jobs and activities, and think of any time where you had to be active and use your hands. Even if it was a long time ago, you can use it as an example.
Here's an example. Let's say that you are applying at a company that makes electronics, but you haven't had that experience before. Here's one way you might answer:
"Although I haven't worked at an electronics company before, I'm really excited about the opportunity to learn how to put electronic components together. In my family, I'm always the go-to person when someone needs help setting up a new stereo or TV, and I love the challenge of figuring out how an entire system goes together. As a hobby, I also like to knit. When I make complex patterns, I have to keep very close track of my work, and I know that this kind of detailed work is important in electronics too."
Do you have questions about job interviews? Feel free to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we may answer them in a future post.