How to navigate tricky career change challenges

Reader AF has a number of questions he would like dealt with as he is currently in the middle of a career change. “I have been in the same job for 24 years and moving on is much more daunting than I thought,” he writes.


Q1: Should I wear a suit for an interview?

A: I’m taking the word ‘suit’ to be a generic term describing what we used to call ‘good clothes’. Yes, you should. Even if the job you will end up doing will not require you wearing a suit, you should show the job the respect it deserves by turning up well dressed.

Certain fashion trends may change. For example, ties are not as popular now as they were once upon a time – you can make your own call on that. Personally, for what it’s worth, I’d still go with the tie. But even if you don’t favour that,  my overall point remains: dress up, look well, appear professional and show respect.

When it comes to advice on style, colour, cut and shape, you’ll have to go elsewhere, alas. I know my limitations…


Q2: I did an interview two weeks ago. I didn’t get the job and wasn’t all that disappointed as I felt I hadn’t quite enough experience in one key area. However, I’ve since sent two emails looking for feedback from the interview panel, but I’ve heard nothing. At what point do I stop asking for feedback? I don’t want to become annoying, but I’d like to know how I did.

A: Yes, it is very frustrating when an interview panel declines to provide feedback. In my experience, few enough panels offer feedback, and, when they do, the effort often feels tokenistic.

I appreciate that they need to cover themselves in case somebody were to lodge complaint or take a case, but they should still be able to devise a safe method of giving candidates proper insight into where they fell down or what they need to improve.

Unfortunately, I suspect you will not be getting feedback from this interview. I wouldn’t bother asking again. They have two emails in their inbox from you. Perhaps someone is out holidays, and they will come back to you next week. If they don’t, I’d let it slide.


Q3: The date picked for an interview clashes with an important family occasion I simply can’t miss. Nor would I want to miss it, indeed. How can I ask to switch dates without blowing my chances?

A: These things happen. Contact them immediately and explain your situation. Be straight up and ask if they can facilitate you on another occasion.

Convening interview panels for a second day can be a nuisance far employers, but they, too, have to be flexible, particularly when getting, and holding onto, good people is a key priority for employers now. The reality is you just can’t be there on the day and if they cannot in some way facilitate your request, you’d have to question if they’re a company you’d like to join anyway.

Get on the case immediately. Give them time to do whatever they have to do to make the necessary arrangements. Ringing the day before just won’t cut it.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.


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