“What skills and qualifications can you bring to the job?” Or, “tell me about your skills and experience.” These are typical questions you may be asked during a job interview. So what is the best way to answer them?
In this blog post, I share a five-step approach to acing any questions coming your way that relate to your skills and qualifications. Giving a great answer to these types of questions is crucial to allow you to promote those skills that provide the most value to the employer. Plus, it helps you mitigate any potential concerns in case there are any competencies expected by the job that you do not possess just yet.
How to answer the question, “What skills and qualifications can you bring to the job?”
This question is an excellent chance for you to show the interviewer what value you can bring to the company. But it is important you choose the right skills – you need to talk about those specific skills that address the employer’s actual needs.
Let me share a short example with you. A friend of mine wanted to buy a new car. He went to a dealership and explained that he needed something for long-distance drives that would fit two adults, two kids, a dog, and a lot of luggage. The salesperson got all excited and showed him different cars. They went through all the different features, such as engine performance, design packages, and parking assistance systems. And guess what?
My friend didn’t buy any of the cars, even though they probably fulfilled his requirements.
Why? Because the salesperson focused on the wrong things and did not address my friend’s actual needs.
I am not saying you should compare yourself to a car salesperson. But there are some parallels when it comes to how you communicate value to others. If you want to convince your interviewer when talking about your skills, make sure you choose the right focus.
Following this five-step approach should steer you in the right direction.
Read the job description and make sure you understand what is required to succeed in the role. Often, you will find a description of the job’s responsibilities and accountabilities as well as a section that describes what qualifications and experiences the ideal candidate should have. Make a list of all these requirements, regardless of you how well you can meet them.
Sort the list based on the importance of each skill. In some cases, the job description will clearly state what is most important. In other cases, you might need to read between the lines. For example, watch out for anything that is repeatedly mentioned – this indicates that these skills are important. Another way to prioritize is to ask yourself which skills a successful person must possess as opposed to which ones are nice to have.
Go through the list in a top-down approach and identify 5-8 skills that you master. Prepare one example for each of these skills that shows how they enabled you to produce great results in your previous job(s). Try to pick examples with measurable results.
For instance, if you applied for a manager role, you could say, “I have excellent people management skills that helped me reduce employee turnover by 25% at my current job.” Or, if you are a graduate applying for an entry-level position within marketing, you might have a great academic record that makes your marketing skills more tangible.
Formulate a clear answer to the question, “What skills and qualifications would you bring to the job” by summarizing the most important aspects. Be sure not to mention the examples you identified in the previous step just yet. Instead, mention that you would be happy to provide some, in case the interviewer wants to hear more.
So, as an example, a candidate applying as a real estate agent might say, “I have in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market, excellent communication and negotiation skills, and a proven track record of closing transactions. I can also cover many legal aspects, as I have a thorough working knowledge of real estate law. May I give you some examples of how these skills helped me achieve great results in the past?” This is a great way to approach the question.
Go through the list from step 2 again and identify important skills you don’t currently possess. If there aren’t any, great – feel free to skip this step.
But don’t be discouraged if there are because a job description is like a wish list. Employers know that it is unlikely that they will find a candidate that fulfills everything 100%.
So, how do you handle these gaps? My suggestion is for you not to bring them up during the interview. But in case the specific questions are asked, you want to have your answers prepared in advance.
You have two ways of doing this.
- Address the need behind the skill by applying another one. For example, suppose the job description asks for “experience in handling customer complaints”, which you don’t have. In this case, you might be able to bridge the gap by saying, “I have studied psychology and have previously been successful in building trust in different customer-facing roles, so I feel confident that I can handle complaints in a professional and constructive manner”.
- If you cannot bridge the gap because the skill required is entirely new, you can explain that you will be able to learn it quickly and provide some supporting arguments for this. For instance, you might say, “I don’t have any experience in Salesforce, but I am sure I can quickly learn this, as I have worked with other CRM systems. I have also already started an online course in Salesforce, and it feels very similar to the software I have used before.”
I hope you found this article on how to answer the interview question, “What skills and qualifications can you bring to the job?” useful. If you are looking for more step-by-step practical tips on how to answer common interview questions, check out my YouTube channel, my podcast or my blog.