How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Qualifications

two men at table for job interview
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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 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 and note all of the requirements for the job. Then, look back at your resume. Consider how your skills, experiences, and abilities fit the job requirements. Make sure that, for each of your qualifications, you have at least one example of how you demonstrated that skill or ability at work. Be sure to highlight those qualifications throughout your interview.

Another way to prepare for an interview 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.

Research interview questions that you may be asked and consider how you will answer them. To build confidence, practice interviewing with a friend or colleague.

Listen to What's Being Said

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 Time to Consider Your Answer

If you don’t know the answer to a question, or can’t think of a quick response, take a moment. It will feel unnatural to you, as 30 seconds of pondering might seem like half an hour of silence, but it’s much better to take the time to consider the question rather than to rush and give an unsatisfactory answer. It’s fine to ask for additional information or clarification about the question, or a moment to think about your answer. In fact, doing so may make you seem more confident and trustworthy.

Describe Your Qualifications Using Examples

When answering a question about your qualifications, always try to use examples. This not only explains why you are qualified but describes those skills and abilities put into action.

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. Explain how it was completed on time and how it helped the company make or save money.

Avoid Negativity

Be mindful of how you speak about your past supervisors, coworkers, or company. Make sure that your comments stay positive or neutral when talking about others. Making negative comments about past employers is unprofessional and indicates that you might do the same to this employer.

Remember that hiring managers are looking for people who will do good work as part of a team. Being positive during the interview process will show that you’re not only qualified to do the job but that you will create an uplifting work environment for the group. 

Watch out for self-undermining behavior. Putting yourself down for mistakes or when you experience stress sends a negative message to the interviewer that you lack confidence, which can hurt your chances of getting hired.

Demonstrate Your Qualifications

When 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 way to demonstrate 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.

Conclusion

A job interview is a prime opportunity to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job. Your goal is to match your skills and abilities with those required for the job and provide examples of how you used your skill-set in previous jobs.

You also want to convince the interviewer that you are a good fit for their work culture. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the company culture so that you are prepared to answer questions. By preparing before an interview, you will be well-equipped to answer questions with confidence.