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Careers 101

How to overcome interview roadblocks: Communicating your relevant experience and your ability to learn.

 

Q: I was recently in a job interview and was told that I did not have enough relevant experience. I was really interested in the position, but at that point I felt very discouraged. I don’t have much experience in my field, so I would like to know how to address this concern in future interviews. 

A:  It is important not to overlook the point of the interview, which is to market yourself as a potential employee. This will require a bit of a sales pitch on your part. Job seekers are often discouraged when asked difficult questions. It’s very common for an employer to point out a lack of skills, education or experience during an interview. This does not, however, mean you are not a viable candidate. 

After all, the employer requested an interview with you. He or she saw your resumé, read your qualifications, before speaking with you. It is highly unlikely the employer assumed you had skills that were not listed on your resumé. When you are told during an interview that you don’t seem to have the qualifications or experience the company is looking for, you should convey that you can learn what it takes to succeed in the role. A lack of relevant experience does not signal the end of the interview. 

Employers are looking for you to articulate that you are ready for the challenge. It’s important to be honest about your skills and experience; don’t exaggerate or embellish in an attempt to meet their needs. Instead, focus on what you do have to offer, and convey the reasons they should hire you. Here are a few talking points:

  • Although I do not have a lot of experience in marketing, I’m a very fast learner. I have already begun research on your products and target markets, and I know I can hit the ground running.
  • I excelled in my finance and accounting classes, and am ready to put that knowledge to use.
  • I believe that my past jobs in sales will translate really well to this position, and I will be able to catch up quickly so I can be an asset to your team.

The key is to focus on your strengths and your desire to learn and succeed. If you are truly interested in the job, it is essential that you make that interest clear to the employer. Remember, you are your own best advocate, so use the interview to market yourself as the best candidate.


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