Underqualified? How to prepare for the interview?
First things’s first. There’s a difference between feeling underqualified and being underqualified. The former is a state of mind. It’s a confidence issue that you can mentally overcome before walking through the door of that interview room. The latter is an issue. We don’t recommend you interview for any job that is legitimately outside of your realm of expertise. That said, if an employer or recruiter found you and invited you in for an interview, there might be some hope for you yet. So, how to prepare for the interview when you feel under qualified for the job?
This leads us to the first of many tips regarding what you should do when you’re in this situation. It’s not all-inclusive, but it’ll get you started and off on the right foot.
Remember, there’s a reason you got the interview.
Not everyone lands the interview, but you did. So rest assured that there is some merit to your interview even if you’re feeling completely unsettled in your own shoes. Someone recognized your potential as a strong candidate and vouched for you – so congratulate yourself on this little victory and start preparing.
Prepare, prepare, prepare for the interview
Do your homework and be sure not to go into the interview blind.
A managing senior recruiter at TxMQ, Bert Munk, always urges his candidates to do as much research as possible about the roles and responsibilities expected of the person who fills this position. “Become as educated as possible,” Bert says. There’s no reason you should stumble on the basic fundamentals of the position. If there’s a way for you to go in well read and learned in the subject matter, then do it. If you’re feeling unmotivated and unwilling to take the time to prepare, then perhaps it’s best to take a step back and ask yourself if the interview (and the job) is really worth it to you. It might not be your thing, and that’s okay. If it isn’t, walk way. Another opportunity better suited to you will come along.
Never fabricate answers or lie in an interview
Crossing the line in an interview can be tempting, but it won’t land you in a very good position (jobless and without an offer). If the interviewer asks you a question that you just don’t know the answer to, it’s better to be honest than to lie. Never (ever) fabricate an answer. When asked if you know X (and you don’t know X) it’s best for you to say something like, “I am familiar with X and I am confident that I could ramp up to use X quickly” or “I have done Y which I believe is very similar to X…”
Indicate your willingness to train and learn
If you landed the interview (and you really are underqualified) there’s a high chance the employer is looking to see if you’re trainable. Be sure to highlight your willingness to learn new things, to undergo extensive trainings, to shadow and to take the time necessary to get up to speed. In your interview, be sure to explain times in your past that you’ve learned something quickly and efficiently. Employers would rather see that you’re willing to ramp up by learning on the job, as opposed to costing them extra dollars by requiring structured training courses.
Find Something unique about you – stand out
Sure, you might lack some of the skills and experiences, which could set you back a notch or two, but don’t rule yourself out. There are likely plenty of things about you that make you a strong fit for this position. Make sure the interviewer notices you for the things that you’re truly excellent at.
Highlight your Accomplishments
Everyone is always looking for candidates who are cheap (entry level costs) but with 10+ years of experience. The recruiter’s nightmare! There’s no such thing as the perfect candidate, but there is such a thing as a great fit. And that might be you! So give it your best effort to highlight all of your accomplishments. What you lack in experience you might make up in accomplishments from your last project or contract. Perhaps you led an initiative that reaped your last company huge benefits. Milk that. It shows your drive, motivation, and your capacity to be successful.
Written by Eden Fried