You know your main goal in your job interview is to prove you have what it takes to do the job. But have you ever felt compelled to point out your skill gaps or other potential weaknesses? Resist this temptation and don’t bring up negatives in your job interview!
First, let’s define what you as a job seeker might perceive as a negative, a shortcoming, or a deficiency:
Top “Negatives” You Think May Hurt Your Chances of Being Hired
- Educational Background – When you took a look at the job description, you realized you didn’t meet the educational requirements. For example, you saw that they ideally want someone with a master’s degree. You have a bachelor’s degree.
- You Don’t Have the Number of Years of Experience Using a Certain Skill – The employer stated a range of years using a certain skill or immersed working in a specific industry. You don’t meet that requirement.
- You Have a Gap in Expertise – You read that they’re looking for somebody to directly manage a large group of people, but you’ve managed cross-functional teams for several years.
- You’re Overqualified – Maybe you meet all of the educational, skill, and attributes requirements…and then some. So you’re concerned they may see you as too senior for the role.
The Unicorn Candidate
One of the biggest things to remember is that when an employer writes the job description, they’re describing their unicorn.
Most job descriptions are broken down by the required qualifications followed by the preferred qualifications. If you can check the box on most of those required qualifications and maybe meet one or two of the preferred, you’re doing pretty well!
With this in mind, realize that employers generally don’t expect that every applicant is going to meet every single one of those qualifications. For example, if you don’t meet the educational requirements, they may consider “equivalent experience.” Or if you lack background directly managing people, but bring extensive industry knowledge and a track record for cross-functional leadership, that can be very attractive.
Second, if you’ve secured the job interview, remember that they believe you have the skills it takes to do the job, or you wouldn’t be sitting there. And, so remember that you are qualified enough to be having the conversation.
If They’re Concerned, They’ll Ask! Here’s What to Say…
If the hiring manager is concerned, they will ask you about any of those gaps. And if that happens, then be sure to frame your response in a really positive way.
For example, instead of “I realize I don’t have five years working in-house for a pharmaceutical company.”
Say, “My most relevant background is that I worked for a third-party vendor that was the #1 supplier of veterinary medical equipment.”
So you’re keeping it positive, the glass is half full, and you’re coming across as a strong candidate in that way. Don’t let any of these perceived gaps bother you and don’t bring up negatives in your job interview, because often it’s not going to be an issue if you focus on what you do bring to the table.
In the End, Fit Matters the Most
Really they just want to make sure that they can work with you–that they like you–and that you can adapt and learn. Skills can be taught, so prove that you’re somebody they can work with.