Thursday, July 23, 2020

How to nail an interview—even if you’re not qualified for the job

When it comes to interview preparation, it’s not about “fake it ’til you make it.” It’s about reframing the job skills you do have.

Mack Gelber

We’re all familiar with the feeling of reading a listing for your dream job. You can vividly picture yourself brilliantly answering the interview questions and cruising toward your new life, one where you’ll rise each day to the smell of fresh-baked donuts (in this fantasy you’re the manager of a popular donut shop), tackling new responsibilities you’ll actually enjoy. And then, the inevitable sad trombone. This job requires five to seven years of donut shop experience. You don't know how to nail an interview when you don't have enough work experience, and your heart sinks. The fantasy begins to flicker away. And you slowly close the screen of your laptop, vowing to never eat another French cruller again.

Wait. Are you serious right now? Upload that resume! Just because you think you're not qualified doesn’t mean you should give up on a job before you’ve even applied for it. We know: You’re probably imagining some mean-eyed HR person, possibly wearing a monocle, crushing your resume in his hand and crying, “Dream? How dare she?!”

So, okay—you send in your application, wait anxiously for a response, think about stalking the hiring manager, actually stalk the hiring manager, but don’t end up emailing her, wait some more, and finally wake up one morning to a message asking you to come in for an interview at a mutually convenient time.

YES! It’s happening. But wait: What about those five to seven years of work experience? You didn’t somehow acquire those in the six days since you sent in your resume, did you? Seems like a stretch.

Our advice? Don’t stress about it. If you managed to score an interview, there’s a good chance that monocle-clad HR rep already recognizes your skills gap but sees something else in your resume that could make up for it. Pep? Resourcefulness? Good old spunk? Whatever it is, we’ve got some tips on how to nail an interview when you think you're underqualified.


Reframe your skills

In the days leading up to the interview, go over the job listing with a fine-tooth comb (or a regular comb, that’ll work too) and identify each individual skill or qualification being requested. We already know you’re missing a few, and that’s fine. Just write them down. Seriously, go do it.

Done? Okay. Now, make a list of the skills you already have. Maybe some of them come from your current or previous job. Maybe some of them come from your part-time gig as a volunteer at a shelter for over-active corgis. It doesn’t matter: Just write them down. Seriously, go do it.

Are you beginning to see where this is going? Even if you don’t have every single skill mentioned in the job listing, some aspects of your experience are most likely adaptable—and can be referenced in a job interview. So, when someone asks, “How accustomed are you dealing with a chaotic work environment?” you're ready with an answer even if your last job was at an aqua therapy spa. You can lean on the experience you’ve gathered corralling those crazy corgis, providing an answer that’s honest and also bridges the gap between your current skill set and the one they’re looking for.

Read the full Monster article to see how to Pick up the skills you lack, Use the scrappiness factor, and Let your resume open more doors

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