Whether it's your first interview ever, your first interview in a long time, or just another interview in a long job search, chances are that you'll find yourself sitting in a interviewee chair where your experience isn't quite up to par. Maybe the employer has high hopes for you based on other skills or maybe they don't know you're inexperienced. Regardless, the date is set and you need to impress somehow; here are some useful tips:
Research and prepare for the basic stuff
Google is your friend. Most of what you need to know for any job is on the web. Spend some time looking up basic knowledge that someone in the role should have. If the interviewer starts hounding you with questions to describe things/situations, there's a higher chance you'll be prepared. Worst case, you could bring up what you've studied on your own by somehow fitting them in you responses. Your lack of experience will be brought to the forefront if you can’t response to basic questions about the position.
Be confident; or at least fake it
Confidence goes a long way and can make you seem more experienced than you are. This includes dressing, smiling, shaking hands, making eye contact, and talking with confidence. Reply to questions like what you’re saying is a fact even if you are unsure. Avoid answering questions in a "questioning" voice. It weakens your reply even if it is correct. Unless it's to clarify the question asked, asking the interviewer a question during your response is a quick way to appear inexperienced.
Don't be afraid to say "I don't know”
Attempting to blindly answer a question can hurt you in three ways:
1. You could give a completely wrong answer and expose experience gaps.
2. You will usually pause or ramble and create awkward moments that could have been avoided.
3. You could expose other gaps in your knowledge that they haven't even asked about.
When you're really stumped, instead admit that you are unfamiliar with what was asked but promote experiences where you've learned things you didn't know. Admit that you don’t know but don't let "I don't know" be the full response.
Don't be afraid to talk through your thought process out loud
A lot of employers will want to know how you think and problem solve. If you have an educated guess, talk through it so that the interviewer knows how you got there. Even though your answer may be off, they could see that you are a great thinker and learner.
Find ways to relate the experiences you do have
When asked about related work experience that you don't have, admit that you don't have it but try to connect the experience you do have. Looking for areas where the skills you used are transferable and focus on action words. Try to shift the focus to your strongest areas when possible instead of experience you lack.
When they ask you if you have questions, ask something! Not having any questions can convey disinterest and lack of experience. Why would someone not have questions about where they might spend 40 hours a week? This is your chance to put the interviewers on the spot with questions about them, the job, and the company. Be sure to integrate relevant knowledge you have and take the focus off of your lack of experience for a little while.
Be over enthusiastic
Make them like you and want to work with you. If you are very inexperienced, you are more likely to get hired if they feel that you will be eager to work and learn.
What tips do you have?
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