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How To Prove You Can Do The Job, Even Without Direct Experience

“Tell me about a time you….”

  1. Speak about situations where you overcame major adversity or quickly handled an ambiguous situation by being resourceful. Chances are, as you reflect on your work history, there were many times you had to figure out how to handle unexpected challenges, quickly shift priorities in an emergency situation, or change direction after a customer or boss reprioritized. While you may have forgotten these situations, that’s likely because they ended well and faded into the back of your mind. However, these can be great stories to relay to an employer who may be wondering how you can handle something you haven’t done before. Pick one or two that show your resourcefulness, agility and creativity to demonstrate that you can hold your own in new environments.
  2. Demonstrate your “softer” side. Recent research is showing that companies are struggling to find individuals who have the necessary “soft” skills to be successful. These include influencing others, collaborating across functions and diverse groups, solving ambiguous problems, and building strong networks. If these are strengths of yours, many employers may be open to overlooking a few technical shortfalls (which can likely be learned) to hire an employee who brings these coveted abilities. Today’s market is shifting so quickly, employers need professionals who can keep up. And while the “hard” skills will continue to morph or be automated, the ability to cultivate relationships will continue to be in demand.
  • Avoid over-explaining. If you’re nervous, your tendency might be to go on the defensive and ramble. Prepare a brief response that addresses the concern, and then move on.
  • Start responses on a positive note. Never begin a reply with “No, I haven’t…” Remember that an interviewer is taking notes and will write down the first thing you say (you don’t want a big “no” on the paper when she is reviewing the notes later). Instead, first explain what you have done that is related.
  • Get backup. Offer to share a reference who can speak to your resourcefulness and ability to successfully tackle new challenges. A third party endorsement can go a long way in convincing a skeptical hiring manager that you can handle yourself when faced with the unknown.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. The higher the level of the job, the more important it is for a company to avoid a hiring mistake, which can be incredibly costly. So, it makes perfect sense that a hiring manager is being careful. Don’t take it personally, but rather see it from their side. If you were in their shoes and were responsible for making this hiring decision, what would convince YOU that you were the right fit? Chances are, your answer lies there.

Written by

Career Switch Coach | Wharton EMBA Career Director | Author of SWITCHERS | SiriusXM (132) Host "Dr Dawn on Careers" | TEDx Speaker | LinkedInLearning Instructor

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