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How to Interview for a Job When You’re Not Exactly Qualified


Sometimes, your dream job is the one that just slightly above your current qualifications, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go after it. Here are four tips to help you navigate past any possible inadequacies of your candidacy and land the gig.


(Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr)

Shortcomings in your candidacy don’t have to hinder your chances of landing that dream job, if you know how to work around them. Here are some ways to do just that.

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1. Leverage your crossover skills. If you find that your credentials don’t exactly mirror the job’s qualifications, then turn to your crossover skills (or transferrable skills) that you’ve acquired throughout your career and use them to your benefit. For instance, you might not have direct experience using the particular database software outlined in the job posting; however, if you have ample experience with databases, then highlight your experience and explain how that skill transfers over to the new job.

2. Stand out in the crowd. You’ll first want to get noticed, so the best way to accomplish that is to have a cover letter and resume that tell recruiters you’re a worthy candidate. Too many job seekers make the mistake of sending a generic, drab cover letter to recruiters when applying for a job, which really only guarantees one thing – your application immediately canned. Same goes for a resume. Don’t expect one version of your resume to work for the many jobs that you’re going after. In other words, use the keywords in a posting to help cater your resume to that particular job’s requirements, because that’s what the recruiter (or screening software) is going to be looking for in a candidate’s application. Just be sure not to cross the very thin line between enhancing your candidacy, and downright lying on your resume.

3. Spruce up your online identity. You might think what you say on social networks has much to do with your professional qualifications, but it absolutely does in today’s social media driven world. A recent Jobvite survey found that “94 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruiting efforts,” and “78 percent of recruiters have made a hire through social media.” It doesn’t take much to turn hiring managers off, either – one offensive joke or inappropriate picture is enough to get your candidacy passed up. If you want to get your online identity in check for your job search, read this post and this post.

4. Get a referral. The best way to make up for any possible shortcomings in your qualifications is to have a referral to vouch for your work. Chances are, someone isn’t going to risk their reputation or name at a company and refer a bogus candidate. Therefore, any inadequacies you may have will be less threatening to your candidacy, should you have a credible referral that works for the company. LinkedIn is a one of the best ways to find connections within your immediate and distant networks, and the process of requesting a referral is, literally, a click of a button.

Don’t be intimidated by not being a perfect match for a certain job position, because the reality is, no one is a perfect match. Employers want you to prove why you’re the right candidate for the job, so use the four tips above to help fill in the gaps and stand out amongst the rest. 

Tell Us What You Think

What other ways do you work around being underqualified for a job? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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EugenANN MATTHEW Recent comment authors
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Thank you for this information.


And also take risk based approach – think of what kinds of potential risks do you represent for your interviewer, and provide information that mitigates these risks.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.