When responding to questions that highlight potential gaps you have as a career switcher:
Don’t apologize. No candidate has every qualification, and neither will you. Focus on your strengths and what you bring versus spending time talking about what you don’t have.
Avoid over-explaining. If you’re nervous, your tendency might be to go on the defensive and ramble. Prepare a brief response that addresses the concern, and then move on.
Start responses on a positive note. Never begin a reply with “No, I haven’t…” Remember that an interviewer is taking notes and will write down the first thing you say (you don’t want a big “no” on the paper when she is reviewing the notes later). Instead, first explain what you have done that is related.
Get backup. Offer to share a reference who can speak to your resourcefulness and ability to successfully tackle new challenges. A third party endorsement can go a long way in convincing a skeptical hiring manager that you can handle yourself when faced with the unknown.
Put yourself in their shoes. The higher the level of the job, the more important it is for a company to avoid a hiring mistake, which can be incredibly costly. So, it makes perfect sense that a hiring manager is being careful. Don’t take it personally, but rather see it from their side. If you were in their shoes and were responsible for making this hiring decision, what would convince YOU that you were the right fit? Chances are, your answer lies there.
Lastly, remember that you’ve made it this far. A busy hiring manager wouldn’t waste her time speaking with you if she didn’t feel like you had something substantial to offer. While you may have a learning curve ahead of you, trust in your abilities and envision yourself in the role at the 6 month point when you’ll be wondering what you were so worried about.
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