Dec. 15, 2020

What skills would you bring to the job?

What skills would you bring to the job?

This episode includes a five-step approach to acing questions about your skills and qualifications. It is crucial to promote those skills that provide most value to the employer and to mitigate potential concerns in case there are any competences that are demanded but that you currently do not possess. I show you a simple way to cover all these aspects.

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Hi and welcome to this episode, which is about the common interview question, "What skills and qualifications would 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 crucial that you choose the right skills - those that address the employer's actual needs. I want to give you a short example from a completely different life-area to illustrate why this is so important. A friend of mine wanted to buy a new car, and 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, explaining many features, like engine performance, design packages, and parking assistance systems. My friend didn't buy any of the cars, even though they probably would have 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 to communicate value. If you want to convince the interviewer when talking about your skills, make sure you choose the right focus.


Following these five steps might help you:


Step 1: 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. List all these requirements, regardless of you how well you can meet them. 


Step 2: Sort the list based on the importance of each skill. In some cases, the job description will clearly state what is most important, while, in other cases, you might need to read between the lines. For instance, certain things might be repeatedly mentioned, which indicates that these are extra important. Another way to prioritize is to ask yourself which skills a successful person must possess and which ones are nice to have.


Step 3: 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 apply 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.


Step 4: Formulate an answer to the question, "What skills and qualifications would you bring to the job" by summarizing the most important aspects. Don't yet bring up the examples you identified in the previous step, but mention that you would be happy to provide some. 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?"


Step 5: Go through the list from step 2 again and identify important skills you don't currently possess.

If there aren't any, great - then you can skip this step.

But don't be discouraged if there are, because the job description is like a wish list, and employers know that it is unlikely that they will find a candidate that fulfills everything 100%. So, how to handle these gaps? Well, of course, you will not want to bring them up yourself during the interview. But you do want to have answers prepared if you are asked about them. And there are two ways to do this. The first strategy is to 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 that case, you might be able to bridge this 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 way". In cases where you cannot bridge the gap because it is an entirely new skill, 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."


Thank you for listening to my five steps for answering questions about your skills and qualifications, and I hope this was helpful to you!