Job interview: How to spin a big change in career focus.

I am looking for anecdotes and advice from other job changers, or from HR types who ask these questions. In thispost, I mention a job I am interviewing for in a few weeks. It is a nursing position, but it is in an area I have no experience with. I think my cover letter explaining my role in my partner’s small business start up was what made me a short list candidate for this position, because it will be more managerial than hands-on nursing.

An obvious question will be why am I looking for such a drastic change? I am trying to think about this and deciding how best to answer the question.

The truth is, I have had two serious lost-time injuries at work in 2 years. I have seen the quality of care go down, and I know it’s going to go down further. What made my unit good and special (low staff to patient ratio, staff who understood the nature of the patients, close multidisciplinary team work) is being diluted or worse. Several patient families have become overdemanding, and somewhat irrational, to the point where some staff are scared of the families. I am sick of the place and burned out. It is going to get worse, there will be layoffs or bumping within the next two years. I might survive that, but then again I might not, it depends how they cut the list.

I am obviously not going to say this in an interview. But this job is going to be so different from my current job I have to anticipate this question. Any advice/anecdote, stories, whathaveyou appreciated.

Rather than waiting for the question of why you are switching, anticipate it and frame it yourself. ie

“I saw a need. opportunity, in X…”

“I’ve always been interested in X because of my experience with…”

“I was found the X part of the (previous job) the most interesting / challenging/most fulfilling part and wanted to become more involved in that aspect.”

Good point Astro, anticipating it will also help steady my nerves. But there is very little similarity between current job and the new position. I have to find exactly what to say. I mean I can’t say “I want a job where I don’t clean up poop and have patients hit me.”

I am thinking of saying "after 16 years of working with seniors I want to try a new challenge, I have always found community health fascinating and am looking to be in a proactive feild. I would also like to further expand my skills in management, which I discovered I enjoyed when I was involved in a small business start up. "(Then I can feild whatever questions they have about that.)

Also, is it appropriate to use my boyfreind as a reference for the business start up? Or since we were co owners, what reference would I use? My boyfriend dealt with the clients, I mostly assisted with the day to day running of the business, forms, work schedules, hire/ fire (all the while keeping my full time job going too.

Does anyone have stories to share about dramatic changes and how they handled the interview?