Interview Tips For When You Might Not Be The Best Candidate
You may appear under-qualified. Except you've passed the first big hurdle. Now what?
Some job ads are longshots. One demands five years of experience, you've barely got three. Another wants computer skills out the wazoo; the only Excel you know is gum.
Then #wtf, you get invited to interview anyways. The other candidates are more qualified. So how do you deal with your deficits and come out on top as an underdog?
It's Not Always The Perfect Match That Gets Hired
Rule one is don't psyche yourself out. You may think you don't stand a chance. Maybe you'll weigh skipping the interview altogether. Go regardless. Sure, your competitors look invincible (on social media). Comparing yourself leaves you feeling emo. Your faint hope: that enough top contenders blow the interview.
A supposed shoe-in might stagger in late, with a lame excuse. Another could come across as obnoxious. Then Ms. Perfect turns out to have lied about one of her certifications. How you present yourself at the interview could turn tides in your favour. Even if not, it's excellent training for next time.
Doing Your Homework Sets You Apart
As a dark horse, you've got to do extra. Want an advantage? Be more prepared than the others. Learn ahead of time all you can about the employer.
A tip: also look up profiles of the interviewer(s). Find background information you can use to build rapport with them. Then rehearse answering difficult questions till you're nuclear with confidence.
Ask Them Why They Picked You
What convinced the employer to invite you? Find out by asking directly. Try when they're setting up the interview. If that person doesn't know, wait until the confab itself.
Ask early what attracted them most to your application. Don't be shy. Once they give hints about the qualities that caught their eye, double down on these when answering.
Fess Up To The Deficits
There's no sense ignoring your weaknesses. But instead of dwelling, ask the interviewer to describe a typical day on the job.
Listen carefully. The job posting may have asked for more experience and credentials than needed. In that case, emphasize your actual work highlights. Tie them to the described day. It'll help diminish your deficits.
Shift Attention To Your Other Strengths
What else can compensate for your shortfalls? All your other assets. Be ready to give real-life examples for ones you mention, such as:
- Not needing a lot of training
- Showing loyalty when your employer's struggling
- Mentoring other staff voluntarily
- Introducing new ideas or more efficiency
If you're willing to take the lower end of this job's pay range, that can be a plus too. Let them know.
Keep On Looking
Don't let it crush you if they go with someone else. Chances were slim from the get-go. To avoid taking it personally, widen your search. Seek out employers that value what you offer.
Doing your best at interviews, you seem to be under-qualified for is good experience. Just think how terrific you'll be when there's an actual match.