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Addressing Missing Job Qualifications During an Interview

During interviews, there will be times when you're missing job qualifications listed in the job description. Meeting all job qualifications through your work and education history doesn't always pan out, but there are ways to address this situation.

Suppose you anticipate connecting the dots and come up a requirement or two short. What not to do is stand there looking as though you came to the wrong address, shake your head, and admit “I don’t have experience in the hotel field” and shut up.

When you lack a specified qualification in the job description, give a compensatory response that offers a substitute qualification. Compensatory responding works often enough to make the effort.

In the above example of lack of experience in the hotel field, after you say “I don’t have experience in the hotel field,” add a compensatory response such as this:

But I do have experience in the restaurant field, and I know a good deal that is common to both of these related hospitality industries. Both fields need employees who are experienced in providing attentive customer services, careful accounting and financial processes, and quality materials supplies. Do you agree that my experience is relevant to the requirements of this position?

Another example of a compensatory response is in education. Suppose the job requires a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing, which you don't have. Don’t automatically raise the issue, but if it comes up, explain that you have the equivalent qualification by virtue of alternate education, such as a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and/or experience, such as campus marketing experience promoting school events.

There will be times when despite diligent research and planning, you just can’t come up with a good compensatory response. What can you say on the spot to plug the hole in your history? When you’re up against a rigid requirement that you absolutely can’t meet and that you’re pretty sure is going to mean curtains for you in the interview, try this last-ditch compensatory response:

Let’s say that you were to make me an offer and I accept, what can I do when I start to further compensate for my lack of [requirement] as I work hard to relieve your immediate workload?

Essentially, you’re playing the likeability card. You’re asking the employer to revert to the philosophy of hiring for attitude and training for skill. You’re using the likeability qualification to plug your requirement gap, which may just get you the job you're seeking.

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