Make them hire me!
August 2, 2006 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Help me ace an interview for a job I am not really qualified for.

I have an interview for a job tomorrow. I have a problem in that every job interview I go to says that I am way overqualifed for what they are paying, so I have decided to apply for jobs that I am a little underqualifed for.

Points because a patron in the bar I work for clued me in to the opening and has been advocating for me and points because apparently my would be boss was just finishing her masters in my program when I just started and she remembers me.

HOWEVER, in all honesty, I am not the most qualified for this position. I have NO doubt that I would do wonderfully in this position seeing as I have the natural skills for it, but my experience is lacking.

I have my masters in Nonprofit Organizations, but I have been working more in advocacy and education and this is more fundraising/special events. I have to do some of that in this job, after all setting up workshops and receptions is very much logistically like setting up special events, but how do I really sound like I can do it?

How do I not look like a kid? At 27, I still look and carry myself pretty young even in a suit.

What about salary? I make 31k in my current position, my direct supervisor in this postion makes around 68k, should I ask for low 40's for what would be a senior manager position?
posted by stormygrey to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get only 4 hours sleep the night before, you'll look and act 10 years older.
posted by scheptech at 7:24 AM on August 2, 2006


but how do I really sound like I can do it?

Start thinking ahead of time for links between your old job (and responsibilities) and your potential new ones. What are your transferrable skills? Sound like you can do it by sketching out how you'd go about setting up a workshop and a reception - if you know someone in that field, ask them to glance over your sketch and see what you're overlooking. Come up with examples that demonstrate the skills and kind of thinking you'll need in your new job.

How do I not look like a kid?

Find an honest friend who's willing to offer some blunt critical analysis. Do you know why you come off so young?

Do you end your statements with that annoying uptone? like this? Don't do that.

Do you use a lot of slang? Cut that out, at least for the interview. Treat it like a formal dinner. Don't be stiff, but don't be too casual.
posted by canine epigram at 7:27 AM on August 2, 2006


Response by poster: I think my speech can be a little colloquial, its hard to explain, its something I developed to fit in the with the rural crowd I have to deal with a lot for my current job. Its all about being nonthreatening and cute and not one of the scary city people, however, I need to do sound quite the opposite for this position.
posted by stormygrey at 7:34 AM on August 2, 2006


Don't fight it - use your youthful exuberance as a strength... you aren't old enough to be burned out or disenchanted.

Ask questions about the job... you might think you want it, but find out more... why is the position vacant? Where does the interviewer see the organization going? What are potential growth opportunities within the position and within the organization?

Also, if you had more time... scouting is key. Find out about the company... think about their business needs... this stuff has a way of coming up in an interview.
posted by ewkpates at 7:51 AM on August 2, 2006


Here are some suggestions.

1. figure out what they want.

2. make a little 60-90 second speech about yourself describing clearly why you are right for the position based on #1. Have it clear in your head but don't make it sound rehearsed.

3. make a list of 5-6 things you want the interviewer to know about you and your skills, accomplishments, character, etc.

4. repeat speech and 5/6 things as necessary in different ways. Stay focused on these things as much as you can.

5. don't ask for money. if they ask you what you want to be paid, i've always been advised to ask them what the range for the position is, and then say that you are in the range or close to it if you are out of it. Don't tell them how much you earn if you can avoid it.

6. talk in complete sentences. do not say anything negative about yourself at all. don't say you are under-qualified.
posted by milarepa at 8:09 AM on August 2, 2006 [4 favorites]


How do I not look like a kid?

This won't help you by tomorrow, but grow some facial hair. With the beard, I never get carded for alcohol. Without the beard, I get carded for coffee.
posted by scarabic at 8:14 AM on August 2, 2006


Yes, find out as much about the employer as you possibly can. Nothing impresses quite as much as knowing your potential employers aspirations, goals and needs.

Be confident, not cocky.

And really ... You're brilliant. You know it. And when you want something, you usually get it. So don't sweat it.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:14 AM on August 2, 2006


Don't grow facial hair.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:14 AM on August 2, 2006


Don't try to hide your youth - it could be an advantage, especially in fundraising and special events where enthusiasm is important. It can also be seen as an opportunity for an employer to build a long-term relationship with a youthful, well-educated employee.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:17 AM on August 2, 2006


Here's a touch of advice on how to sound like a senior manager. When you go into the interview, talk about the ORGANIZATION and where it's going, how it fits in to the big picture, its general strategy, blah blah. This is what bigwigs do all day. When they meet with each other they don't spend a single second talking about whether they are qualified to perform the tasks in their job descriptions. They're above all that.

If you're underqualified, I suggest you use a little misdirection and steer the conversation toward your thoughts on the organization / department as a whole. Speak with authority about where you've been. Ask big questions about the new place. But whatever you do, don't spend the whole hour sitting up, begging, rolling over, trying to show you have the skills to perform the tasks at your new desk.

Just a thought on how to appear more senior.
posted by scarabic at 8:17 AM on August 2, 2006


Uh, yeah guys, it might take Rebecca quite a while to grow facial hair. Jesus.
posted by peep at 8:39 AM on August 2, 2006


On a more helpful note, to look older:

Do you have time to get a haircut, and would you be willing to do that. Shorter usually looks "older" and more professional.

And get some cute but conservative reading glasses. Fake it.
posted by peep at 8:40 AM on August 2, 2006


I have this problem and the best way to combat it (for me at least) is something that you actually mentioned: it's all in how you carry yourself! If you carry yourself like you are five years older, people will think you are older. Don't give people a reason to think otherwise. The hair, makeup and clothing are key too, but if you're immature, no amount of conservative hairstyling can save you once you open your mouth. :)

There was some advice from Dear Abby readers recently on this as well.
posted by ml98tu at 9:06 AM on August 2, 2006


HOWEVER, in all honesty, I am not the most qualified for this position. I have NO doubt that I would do wonderfully in this position seeing as I have the natural skills for it, but my experience is lacking.

If you would do wonderfully, you are NOT under-qualified. Just keep that in mind and you'll be fine.
posted by callmejay at 9:57 AM on August 2, 2006


When you go into the interview, talk about the ORGANIZATION and where it's going, how it fits in to the big picture, its general strategy, blah blah. This is what bigwigs do all day. When they meet with each other they don't spend a single second talking about whether they are qualified to perform the tasks in their job descriptions. They're above all that.

This is spot on.

How do I not look like a kid? At 27, I still look and carry myself pretty young even in a suit.

Interview behaviors that make me feel that an applicant is too immature to work for me (And I'm in nonprofit admin.)
* Not looking me right in the eye.
* Hair twirling.
* Not standing up as soon as I enter the room. Related: wimpy or delayed handshake.
* Not being able to describe their previous experience (because they had too little to which to compare it.)
* Not actually answering the question. Answer it first, then illustrate with an anecdote.
Practice telling people exactly what your current job is until it rolls off your tongue.
* Too-casual clothes. Our office is pretty relaxed business casual, but I expect more formal attire for interviews. (Avoid open-toed shoes. Don't go bare-legged -- wear stockings.)
* Not sending a thank-you note.
posted by desuetude at 10:09 AM on August 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Development and special events is all about contacts. You already have some, and if you have others at the foundations, marketing firms and the like you'll be working with, you are cool. Don't name drop but, in context, make sure they know that you know how to network.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:43 AM on August 2, 2006


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