Can I get hired if I lack some job requirements?
In the October 2, 2018 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader can do the job but lacks some job requirements.
What do you do when the employer interviewing you has four requirements but you meet only three of them — yet you know that you’re the best person for the job? How can I turn this kind of situation into a job offer?
Isn’t this the way it goes? You are certain the job is a great fit, but the manager isn’t. It’s of course possible your judgement is incorrect, and that you are not the best person for the job. Going into a job interview, you don’t really have enough information about the job, the work environment or the manager to know that, any more than the interviewer has enough information about you. That’s the purpose of the interview. But your question isn’t about how you can assess a job; it’s about how to show you’re worth hiring, assuming you can gather enough information to be reasonably sure you are in fact a very good candidate. So let’s proceed with that understanding.
Credentials vs. Show-And-Tell
I’ll let you in on a secret: Managers are not very good at figuring out whether a candidate really fits. Managers tend to give too much weight to credentials on a resume, and not enough to actual evidence that a candidate can do the work. (For more about direct and indirect assessment of job candidates, see 5 Steps to Easy Interviews and Quick Job Offers.)
This actually gives you the advantage. It lets you suggest to the manager that you should do a show-and-tell, rather than just answer questions about what’s on your resume (and in your experience). It gives the manager an opportunity to see you perform.
If you lack something an employer wants, but you’re a fit on other counts, don’t wait for the employer to decide to take a chance on you. He probably won’t. Don’t wait for him to figure out what to do with you – figure it out for him and explain it.
Show you can do the work
Remember this: The key requirement for any job — whether anyone admits it or not — is the ability to actually do the work. This is your opportunity to bring the focus of the discussion to the job in question, and to your relevant skills.
Offer to demonstrate what you can do, and how you will do the work. Show him. Few job candidates ever do that in an interview. A good employer who’s looking for a confident, talented, dedicated worker will react well.
Ask the manager flat-out if he’s hesitating to hire you over that one point. Then explain that you’d like to prove you’re a fast learner and that your other skills will more than compensate for anything that might be lacking:
“May I take a few minutes to show you, right now, how I would do this job? If I can’t convince you, then you shouldn’t hire me.”
This is an incredibly powerful approach because it requires a commitment from you. Of course, it’s also risky and you must be prepared to do such a demonstration. (See “How to Do A Working Interview™,” pp. 22-24, in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 6, The Interview: Be The Profitable Hire.)
Make the commitment that wins the job
How should you demonstrate your abilities? Consider questions like these in advance of your interview, and make sure you have good answers:
- Would you need to operate a computer or other machine? (Ask to sit at the machine to show how you’d handle it.)
- Does the job require talking with customers? (Ask for a scenario you’d have to handle, and then show what you’d say to the customer.)
- Can you draw an outline of how you would perform a task? (Ask what specific objective you’d have to achieve, then list the steps you’d follow.)
- Can you explain how you’d solve a particular problem? (Draw a picture and show your plan.)
Don’t let a missing requirement be your deal-breaker. Be ready to address challenges like those above. Making this kind of powerful commitment in the interview can shift the manager’s decision criteria in your direction and help you win the job.
When an interviewer begins to lose interest, it’s up to you to turn things around. Stand and show you can deliver. If a manager doesn’t respond to that, go on to a better employer who will take notice of a candidate who’s ready to put it all on the line.
You can still apply for a job, and do a successful interview, even if you don’t seem to meet all the job requirements — if you can show you can do the job nonetheless.
See: The shortcut to success in job interviews.
Is there a compelling substitute for job requirements and qualifications? Have you ever won a job in spite of not having all the qualifications listed in the job description? How did you do it?