It’s a confusing scenario that almost every career changer will go through. You’ve managed to land an interview for a role you’d kill for and even though you’re excited, you’re also a little worried because you know you don’t have any real experience of doing that job. But career coach and recruitment expert Fay Wallis of Bright Sky HR says that there’s no need to be so concerned. The fact that you’ve gotten an interview means that your lack of experience isn’t a deal breaker. All you have to do is put the following four steps into action to convince an employer to take a chance on you because you CAN do the job.
Do your research
Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. It’s a cliche but that doesn’t make it less true, especially for a job interview. Failing to thoroughly research an organisation, industry and job role you’re interviewing for is the quickest way to ruin your chances at an interview. The knowledge you’ll gather from reading about the job will not only show your enthusiasm for the role and your knowledge of the field, it will also help you to establish rapport with the interviewer.
Thorough research is even more important if you lack practical experience. Why? Because your words will be the only way to prove that you have a realistic impression of what the job involves and the knowledge needed to excel in it.
- Do an initial Google search, read through the company’s website and then research the company on social media. Twitter can be a great way of getting up-to-the-minute information about the company, but don’t just follow it, dig deeper and look at the companies and people it follows. This is a handy way of finding out who its competitors are and what the latest industry trends are.
- Search for the company on Glassdoor and look out for feedback from employees and past interviewees. If you’re really lucky, you may even find information on the interview format and questions used by the company.
- Talk to other people who already do the job, work in the company or work in the industry you’ve got your eyes on. They will help you to better understand the company culture, the challenges that the organisation has and the skills you will need to demonstrate to show you can do the job well. If you don’t know anyone who fits the bill, asking your friends, family and contacts, or doing a search on LinkedIn should help you to find a relevant person to speak to.
Identify your transferable skills
You may not think so, but even if your current (or former) career field is (or was) a world away from the one you’re now trying to get into, you will have some transferable skills that will be very useful for the job you’re interviewing for. The trick is to work out which ones are the most relevant and then prepare examples of when you’ve demonstrated these skills in your past jobs.
- Get hold of a full job description and highlight the key skills mentioned
- Prepare scenario-based answers that show when you’ve successfully demonstrated these skills
- Bear in mind that the majority of jobs call for the following skills: time management, communication, adaptability and collaboration. It’s worth preparing answers that show you have these skills as well
- It’s also worth showing a third party (a knowledgeable friend or a career coach) your CV and the job description. Ask them to pick out your transferable skills. Others are often better at seeing our strengths than we are!
Identify and rectify any gaps
While it’s important to upsell yourself as much as possible, the fact remains that you’re likely to lack some of the skills or knowledge needed for the role. However, don’t panic or give up. Instead, take some proactive steps to fill in any gaps you’ve identified. By doing this you’ll show the interviewer that you are proactive, a problem solver and able to recognise your own limitations – vital skills for any job. Most importantly, you’ll reassure the interviewer that you are obtaining the skills you lack.
- Sign up for an evening, weekend or short-course
- Ask to do a project at your current job that will help you to build up these skills
- Volunteer with a local charity or small business in a role that will help you develop these skills
- Arrange to do some work experience
Plan your interview pitch
Now that you’ve done your research, identified your transferable skills and started filling in your skill gaps, the final step is to perfect your interview pitch. This should be made up of a couple of sentences that explain why you are perfect for the job – namely your interest, enthusiasm, transferable skills and plans for upskilling to fill in any current skill gaps.
But remember to avoid placing too much emphasis on the fact that you haven’t got the relevant experience. You made it to the interview stage, which means that your inexperience is probably not as important to the interviewer as you think it is.
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