If you are an aspiring career changer, a new graduate, or even an experienced professional but looking to enter a young industry (e.g., blockchain), then you have less relevant experience for a job than other candidates but still need to interview with confidence. As you sell yourself, you might feel disingenuous doing so. This impostor syndrome will test your confidence and requires a different kind of interview preparation to be convincing.
As a newbie to your target career, you can’t point to items on your resume as proof of your qualifications to employers. You have to find other ways to sell the interviewer and sell yourself (past your own self-doubts) that you are indeed qualified for the job. Here are four steps to interview with confidence when you have little relevant experience for the job:
Remember that you were invited to interview for a reason
Even if you feel like you don’t have enough experience, clearly the employer felt you had enough of something that you were invited to interview. It could be that you have enough experience. Or it may be that you have a skill set they need, you were the best of who applied, or this employer happens to like people with your similar background (e.g., you’re a former consultant and they love consultants). Try to find out why you were selected for an interview. When you schedule your interview, ask what it was about your background that prompted them to call you in. You will learn more about the employer’s priorities, and you may find out something about the role that wasn’t obvious in the job description. You can then build on their interest, talking about similar aspects of your background.
Practice general interview technique
You will interview with confidence for any job, even one you’re nervous about, when you interview better in general. Don’t be so nervous about how hard this interview might be that you forget the basics of general interview technique. Make sure you can concisely and compellingly answer typical interview questions. If you haven’t interviewed in a while, schedule a mock interview with a coach or mentor. Be prepared to talk about why you are interested in this job, not just about your skills and qualifications. You may think the employer will grill you because you don’t have a lot of experience for this job, but many employers prioritize enthusiasm for a role over qualifications.
Prepare specific examples to this job
That said, you will also need to address your qualifications for the job — you interview with confidence when you’re confident about your performance on the job. When you have limited relevant experience, you will need to show related accomplishments, knowledge of the new area, or some other competitive advantage. Prepare these talking points and specific examples for each, in advance. If the job requires you to know concepts that are outside your day-to-day experience, study up on whatever jargon or terminology you need to know. One former colleague of mine, who already is a C-level executive in marketing, went back to her business school text books from over 15 years ago to prepare for an interview that was going to focus largely on deal analysis. She hadn’t used certain financial concepts in a while and felt she needed a refresh – this intense level of preparation is what the most competitive candidates do, so follow their example.
Prepare to perform at your best
Finally, even as you itemize your strengths, shore up your interview technique, and prepare specifically for the role at hand, you still need to be at your best when the moment of the job interview arrives. All this preparation to interview with confidence will be for naught if you can’t get past your nerves on job interview day. Remind yourself of times when you were also nervous but still came through under pressure. Give yourself a routine for the night before and morning of the job interview so that you feel refreshed and energized on your big day. Read some inspirational quotes on your way to the interview or at Reception before you go in, so you get a burst of enthusiasm right at the start.
You can interview with confidence even for jobs where you have limited relevant experience. People do change careers. New graduates do get hired. Professionals do move from one line of work into new industries and new roles. Others have done it, and so can you.