how do you talk about the skills you don't have?

How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Skills Gap

Let’s face it, the competition is fierce amongst creatives vying for jobs right now. The state of the market for creatives has many professionals going to lengths to prove themselves in interviews—sometimes by lying about their experience and facing dire consequences later. Others might feel like they must have all of the requirements to apply and interview for a job, which is not the case! But you’ll still need to be prepared to talk about the gap in your skills during interviews. The reality is that most people don't have EVERY qualification for a job opening and learning on the job is something we all end up doing. So, how do you answer those concerns or questions about the the skills you don’t have (yet) with grace and confidence?

1. Dial in on your transferable skills

Study the job description before going into your interviews and practice your answers ahead of time. When they ask you about the types of experiences you don’t have, you can reflect on what transferable skills you do have. For example, you've probably developed leadership skills in your career even if you haven't had the manager title yet. You can still speak to times when you’ve led a project successfully—even if there were just two other people on the team. You can also reflect on times when you’ve organized groups of people or projects in volunteer, degree programs, or internship settings. Then tell your relevant story with a focus on how that experience directly transfers to this job in question. 

On the other hand, if the job requires technical expertise or program experience that you don't have, compare it to the work you have done. For example, if interviewing for a marketing role that requires Salesforce, talk about how you've managed another CRM like Hubspot. Or if the interview wants to talk about your experience with a specific industry like beauty, try to make the conversation about how you've worked within a related industry like consumer products or luxury. There are so many ways to make your experience work and it will allow you to show the interviewer that you understand their business and might even bring a fresh perspective.

2. Recall relevant learning experiences 

Similarly to speaking about your transferable skills, you’ll want to point out adjacent learning experiences to the ones outlined in the job description. Maybe you don’t have experience with particular software, but you know exactly how you’ll learn! Talk about how you’ve faced similar challenges in the past while learning on the job. Then try to discuss the software at hand. Hopefully, you’re familiar with it and know exactly what questions to ask to get a feel for how it’s used in the company. If not, do as much research as you can ahead of time and come prepared with questions.

3. Speak to how you learn in speed, quality, and initiative

This point can be interwoven with the above tip on learning experiences, but being able to speak to  your learning curve or your learning style are great ways to back up a story. The hiring manager will appreciate how well you know yourself. If you feel confident enough, you can also speak to immediate needs that you recognize in the company and offer how you would teach yourself the skills needed to get the job done. They’ll appreciate the initiative you’re taking to stay on top of relevant skills in a fast-paced market. This type of initiative also shows how you might easily adapt to the company’s changing needs in the future. 

4. Show how you’d fit perfectly in the company

Alongside your eagerness to learn, you can also display how you align with the company’s values. Before your interviews, research their values. If you can, speak to someone who already works on the team ahead of time and get to know the day-to-day operations. Presenting how you’re a total culture fit is an asset that many applicants might overlook. More often companies are looking for eager, like-minded employees who work well with others—and if you can prove that’s you, you will stand out even without certain skills under your belt. 

5. Ask questions and be honest with your answers

If you aren’t sure about some aspects of the job, ask! Come with plenty of questions and get to know exactly what’s expected so there are no surprises down the line. If they ask you questions about your lack of skills or experience, stay confident and positive. Admit that you might not have held a certain title or had many years of “X” skill under your belt. But follow that admittance up with a reminder of your relevant learning experiences and transferable skills. They’ll appreciate your honesty and you will be better off having told the truth. 

And if you don’t get the job, then what?

Do exactly what you said you’d do—learn!

As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to research current job descriptions and follow up with learning the skills necessary to land the job you want. Put in the time and money toward your education. Volunteer with organizations that need the skills you want to learn on the job. Find a mentor or job shadow someone you admire to learn how they get the job done daily. Network with people you want to work with and maybe collaborate on personal projects. With practice, patience, and everyday learning in new opportunities, you’ll land that dream job faster than you think.

Ready to take a look at what’s out there? We have a list of openings that might help you land your next big gig.

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