How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Qualifications
The purpose of a job interview is to demonstrate why you are the right person for the job. The best way to do that is to show how your skills, education, and experience have prepared you to do this job better than any other candidate under consideration. This means relating your qualifications to the job for which you’re being interviewed.
It's critical to show the hiring manager not just that you have the qualifications, but also that you can apply them. Go beyond simply reminding the interviewer of your relevant certifications, for example, or even the jobs you’ve held that have prepared you for this role. Be prepared to make a case for why your unique experience makes you the best choice.
The good news is that the hiring manager will most likely give you plenty of opportunities to demonstrate your aptitude for the role. Most job interviews involve a series of questions from the hiring manager, some trickier than others. Keep your ears open for questions about your qualifications, and be ready with responses that demonstrate why you’re a good fit.
Prepare Ahead of Time
The best way to answer questions about your qualifications for the job is to prepare. Before the interview, read through the job posting one more time. Make note of all of the requirements for the job. Then, look back at your resume. Think about what skills, experiences, and abilities you have that fit the job requirements. Make sure that, for each of your qualifications, you have at least one example of how you have demonstrated that skill or ability at work. Be sure to highlight these qualifications throughout your interview.
Another way to prepare is to research the company ahead of time. Learn about the company culture as well as the company’s mission and goals. This will help you connect your abilities and experience to both the job and the organization.
One of the most common job interview mistakes is talking too much. Another is not paying attention to what the interviewer is saying. Both are functions of not engaging with the hiring manager.
Remember that a job interview is a conversation, not a monologue. You’re there to connect with the other person, and that means really listening to what they have to say. This might require taking notes while the person is talking so that you remember the question being asked.
Take Your Time
If you don’t know the answer to a question, or can’t come up with a response off the top of your head, take a moment. It will feel unnatural to you – 30 seconds of pondering might feel to you like half an hour of silence – but it’s much better to take a beat than to rush. It’s OK to ask for more information, clarification about what the hiring manager wants, or for a moment to think. In fact, doing so may make you seem more confident and trustworthy.
When answering a question about your qualifications, always use examples whenever possible. This helps you go from simply telling the employer why you are qualified, to showing him or her. When giving an example from your past work experience, focus on how your use of that skill or ability brought success to the company. For example, when stating that you are a skilled project manager, you might give an example of a project you managed, and explain how it was completed on time, and how it helped the company either make or save money.
Don’t badmouth your old boss, coworkers, or company. To do so is to tell the hiring manager that you might turn on your new employer at any moment. This is not exactly a selling point.
Further, be kind to yourself. If you’re someone who tends to beat yourself up a lot when you make a mistake or experience stress, know that and watch out for self-undermining behavior.
Remember that above all else, hiring managers are looking for people who will do good work as part of a team. Being positive during the process will show that you’re not only qualified to do the job but also that you create an uplifting work environment for the group.
Demonstrate Your Qualifications
In addition to describing your qualifications for the job, offer to demonstrate them. For example, if you're interviewing for a job that requires superior writing skills, demonstrate your qualifications by providing a writing sample or bringing in a portfolio of your work. (However, if you provide a sample based on an assignment you completed for a previous employer, be sure to redact confidential or sensitive information.)
Another example of demonstrating your qualifications is to explain to the interviewer what you hope to accomplish during your first 30 days or 60 days on the job. Expressing your future accomplishments can give the interviewer insight into the type of work you're capable of performing.