How to Handle Job Interview Questions About a Lack of Experience

You apply for a role that you believe you are a good but not a perfect fit.  You get the invitation to go along for an interview.

So far so good.  The interview is going well.  You feel you have built up good rapport with the person who is interviewing you. Then it gets to the point in the interview where you are asked about an area where you lack experience.

It could be a lack of experience in areas such as:

  • The computer system that they use
  • The sector (if you have never worked in it before)
  • Specific aspect of the job
  • Managing a team
  • Leading projects
  • And many others too.

Now all of these questions about a lack or perceived lack of experience are perfectly valid.  Equally they are pretty predictable too.

So how do you handle this type of question so that it doesn’t throw you completely off track?

The key thing is to anticipate the question and have a clear and confident response.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Lack of experience of the computer system they use

You either have experience or you don’t.  At the same time you are likely to have used other systems.  Talk about your past successes of moving from using one type of system to another.  Also mention that you have found that even if two organisations using the same application they often have it set up differently.

Lack of experience of the sector

Here is the problem.  Everyone understands that businesses are 80% generic and 20% specific.  Unless people are interviewing when they often view it the other way round (20% generic and 80% specific).

The easy way to overcome this is to research the sector so that you can talk confidently about the challenges and opportunities.

Lack of experience in a specific aspect of the job

This is the easiest to handle.  Talk about the aspects of the job you can handle well and state that you see the areas that you don’t have experience as development.

Lack of experience of managing a team

You may not have experience of managing a team at work.  Have you ever managed a team outside of work to put together an event or organise a big group trip?  If so why not talk about this and illustrate the transferable skills.

Lack of experience of leading projects

This is another of these areas where you can draw on experience outside of work.  Most have something that they have done that would fit.  It’s often just a case of thinking a little bit harder to come up with the examples.

The Bottom Line

There are always going to areas where you lack experience.  Rather than seeing this as a barrier see it as an opportunity.  If you prepare well there is no reason why this should throw you off track in a job interview.

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About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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