Job interview- not fully qualified
June 16, 2018 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I applied for a job that I’m about 70% qualified for.

I have plenty of experience and knowledge in a portion of the requirements. However, some of the essential skills I don’t know about besides for what I learnt at school a bunch of years ago. I’m fully confident I can quickly catch up and do a good job. My resume is truthful and doesn’t mention any of the stuff I don’t know about.
The company reached out For a phone interview. I really want to work for this company. How do I approach the situation when we get to that point? I don’t want to sound like someone willing to say whatever to get a job.
posted by 3dd to Work & Money (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You've pretty much got it in your post.

If you're asked about those specific skills, you just be up front about it - I dont have direct experience in this area but here are things that I've done that are related because [find some sort of relation]. Im excited to work for your company and what I can offer is [other skills] and a willingness and ability to learn the required skills quickly.

Thinking also of other work you've done in the past that you had to learn on the job are good narratives to prepare and tell.
posted by Karaage at 2:38 PM on June 16, 2018 [12 favorites]

Any company worth its salt expects new employees to do some learning on the job. Otherwise you wouldn't want to work there, right? Right? So be truthful about the skills you lack, while also telling them what your plan is to build your skills in those areas. Then this:

I’m fully confident I can quickly catch up and do a good job.I really want to work for this company.

Or, on preview, what Karaage said.
posted by DrGail at 2:41 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most companies advertise jobs with about a 130% wishful thinking factor. If you got a callback, you're at least in the relevant range for the job, trust me. Just be honest (but not overly deprecating) when you talk to them.

Using Excel as an example, if you can navigate in it fluently but have to google harder calculations and functions:

DON'T say:
"I'm just a beginner on Excel."
"I can't do any of that hard stuff."

DO say:
"I sometimes have to look up the lesser-used functions."
"I took a course in school 5 years ago. I have to google it when I do pivot tables."
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:07 PM on June 16, 2018 [12 favorites]

Ima let you in on a little secret here: a 70 percent match is pretty much what any company is looking for. A 100 percent match would be great, sure, but 70 will probably be good enough. And if you’ve made it to the interview stage, then they’ve already decided that your particular 70 percent is good enough, so don’t sweat it.

What you do now is show them how much you’re prepping to get that other 30 percent. Brush up on the stuff you haven’t done since school. Study how your knowledge (longstanding and just-brushed-up-on) will fit with this company specifically. Tell them what your plan is to get up to speed on the stuff that you never had the opportunity to learn before.
posted by Etrigan at 3:13 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, a while ago Forbes, which is neck-and-neck with Business Insider for being the top clickbaity business-interest website, posted about an internal study at Hewlett-Packard which talked about how women tended to apply only for jobs for which they were 100% qualified, while men usually applied after exceeding around 60%. This stat is evidently also found in Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, Kay & Shipman's The Confidence Code, and many articles.

Harvard Business Review weighed in with their own study on the matter, and followed up with a question to people as to why they didn't apply. The number one reason both men and woman decided not to apply for a position for which they were underqualified was "I didn't want to waste my time."

Do you feel you are wasting your time by applying for this? From where I sit (as a male, FWIW), you aren't wasting your time and I agree with the above comment that 70% is great, particularly when the remaining 30% is trainable. It's up to you, but I'd tell you to apply, be up front about both your shortcomings and your willingness to learn, and maybe try to have the outlines of a plan to learn those things, such as "I have investigated online courses for qualifying on ______," and "the local college has a 6-week evening class on ______" and whatnot. The best way to present a problem is to present some potential solutions at the same time.

Good luck in your job search.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:29 PM on June 16, 2018 [18 favorites]

Echoing what everyone said above. The company asked you for an interview after (hopefully) reading your resume, so you're close enough that they want to talk to you. They likely aren't expecting to find someone who meets all of their requirements; I don't think I've ever seen a job where I qualified for even 100% of the "must haves" let alone the "nice to haves," and yet I've gotten plenty of jobs over the years, so clearly there's a huge amount of wishful thinking going on. 70% is great, don't worry about it.

Just emphasize the things you do know, and when they inevitably ask you "why do you want this position?" make sure you include the concept that you want to grow your skills and develop as a professional, and that you think this position looks like it will give you a great opportunity to do that. Don't just look willing to learn the other 30%, look eager to learn it. Try to find a couple of those qualifications that are things you would genuinely like to get good at, and tell them that those are things that you've been specifically looking to add to your skill set.

You'll be fine. A 70% qualification match is totally fine.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:33 PM on June 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

You need to be willing to take on jobs that you’re underqualified for if you want to progress your career and become better qualified
posted by moorooka at 3:44 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just this week I accepted a job that was basically tailor-made for me by the company in question—I was the only applicant, and I never even saw a list of qualifications until they sent the offer letter. I was still only about 80% qualified, according to the list they included in the offer. So seriously, don't sweat it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:00 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

People usually aren't 100% qualified for the jobs they apply to. If they were, people would never move up in their careers. Learning on the job and expanding your skills as you go is how it works. So I wouldn't fret it at all.

If they ask you about skills you don't have or aren't fresh, say you have some familiarity and you're looking forward to gaining more expertise as the role requires. You don't have to lie and pretend you're an expert - showing an eagerness to learn is enough. And if you can point to a previous job where you learned new skills for the role and quickly got the hang of it, point to that track record as well.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:18 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

As everyone else has said, generally companies won't call you back unless you've passed their initial qualifications screen. If you've gotten this far, they think you can do the job.

All that said, since it sounds like you're more interested in the company rather than the work itself, if you end up not doing well on the phone interview (or any other part of the process), ask your recruiter if the company has any other positions open that might be a better fit. They realize that not everyone who passes the first round of screening is a good fit, but they know they're highly qualified, good people by that point, and those are in demand. I've gotten a couple of jobs this way before.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:02 PM on June 16, 2018

The point of a resume is to get a phone screen. The point of a phone screen is to get an interview.

As someone who does a lot of hiring remember that the job description says, what the hiring manager wants, and what the hiring manager will accept are three different but related things. One way to look at it is that the point of a job description is to get candidates to apply.

In short - don’t worry. You passed by getting a phone screen.
posted by unix at 6:11 PM on June 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question almost exactly one month ago, except it sounds like you are in much better shape than I was, qualifications-wise. Long story short... just yesterday I signed my offer letter. Just try to relax and do your best, and let the chips fall where they may.
posted by btfreek at 6:57 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm currently in the process of recruiting people for my team. If someone applies who can do absolutely everything on the job description then I generally can't afford to hire them.
posted by mr_silver at 2:10 AM on June 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Great advice above! I just accepted a job I was about 70% qualified for (missing some certifications they wanted). I did a bunch of thinking about what skillsets I had that weren't necessarily in the qualifications list but would be valuable. For example, I love data and can figure my way through data analysis and databases. I highlighted that and it turns out that having a data wrangler would be an asset for an upcoming project that they didn't think of when the job description was written. So framing things as "I currently don't have much experience with X skill, but am happy to learn" with "Here are some bonus skillsets you may not have thought and may be valuable in this role" worked well for me.
posted by snowysoul at 9:13 AM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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