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How To Nail The Job Interview When You’re Not 100% Qualified

You might not be perfect on paper, but you can still wow them in person.

After hours of searching online, you’ve finally spotted it: The perfect job. It’s so right for you, you’re already planning where you’ll eat lunch with your new coworkers. Then you get to the last few bullet points of the job description and—oh no!—you realize you don’t meet all of the job qualifications. But don’t give up on it just yet!

If you managed to score an interview, chances are the recruiter and hiring managers know you’re missing one or two qualifications, but they saw something special in your resume and want you to wow them. Follow these steps to use your in-person powers of persuasion to convince the hiring manager that you can do the job and do it well.

1. Explain how your existing skills can apply to the requirements. 

Think of the job description as your guide for interview preparation. Maybe a requirement is experience training new employees, and you don’t have hard skills for that—but you coach soccer in your spare time, so you know a thing or two about teaching skills to new learners. So now you’ve got answers in case they ask about these skills. But you don’t necessarily need to bring them up unless someone else does.

2. Get some new skills – fast. 

Just because you’re not a pro at every program or skill they’re asking for, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn what you need in time for the interview. Getting proactive about professional development now will go a long way. In some cases, just letting them know you’re learning that skill will be enough to impress them.

3. Show them you know how to rise to a challenge. 

Another way to overcome a skills gap during an interview is to prove that you’ve come from behind before. Talk about a time you adjusted to a new job or new responsibilities in a role where you previously had zero experience.

If you’re still early in your career, chances are you’ve had to wear a lot of hats before—hats you hadn’t worn previously. Maybe you were hired to project manage a team, but you were also asked to write press releases. Maybe you were hired as a graphic designer, but you found yourself writing copy taglines, as well. Show that you’re scrappy and willing to do whatever is needed, even if you have to learn some new skills.