03/01/2018 Steph Anderson

Smart ways to compensate for lack of experience in job interviews

In a few short months, a new batch of college grads will be entering the workforce. Enlightened by the college experience, they are eager to tackle full-blown adulthood. While well-versed in academics and the theories they learned in school, they will likely soon face a rather large hurdle: lack of job experience.

It’s the ultimate stumbling block: You have no experience so you want to get a job to gain it, but you can’t get a job until you have experience. What do you do?

Maybe you’re a college grad wondering how to tackle this problem. Maybe you’re not, but you want to make a career switch or return to work after a long break, and you don’t know how to convince a hiring manager to take a chance on you over another candidate. Lack of experience is a common problem shared by many people.

If you’re relatively green but interviewing for a job you really want, there are some steps you can take to position yourself for success. Consider these five talking points at interviews for getting a job with minimal experience:

Fresh insight: Highlight that you bring a fresh, new perspective to the team. Smart managers know that for innovation to happen, you need people of many different backgrounds and experience levels to offer input and creativity. Your fresh perspective might be just what is needed to break through stagnant existing problems.

Moldable: You may have minimal experience, but that also means you are a blank canvas, just primed to be transformed into something amazing. Many companies actually prefer candidates without experience, because that means you haven’t picked up bad habits yet. You are moldable into what the organization wants you to be.

Passionate: Interviewers want to meet with people truly excited about the opportunity. If you can show your passion for the position, you’re already a step ahead of other ho-hum candidates. Talk about how you are highly motivated to start ASAP and are excited to dive into the career you’ve been preparing for throughout the past four years.

Get creative: Now, we’re not talking about bending the truth, but you probably have more applicable experience than you give yourself credit for. While it might not be direct experience, you can certainly pull examples from your studies, time volunteering, extracurricular activities, internships and even your past jobs. Read the job description and think about transferable skills based on your past experiences. Pluck examples you can bring up at the interview. What’s more, have a solid list of references ready to go who can speak to your character and achievements.

Focused, fast learner: The biggest drawback to hiring a newbie is the time investment it will take to get that person up to speed. Put worries at ease by stressing how focused you are at the interview and that you pride yourself on being a fast learner. Promise you’ll work hard. Really hard. And if you’re hired, keep that promise.

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