Job Interviews: “I don’t know how to…” (Yes, you do.)

The night before the interview, you didn’t sleep thinking about how you were going to skirt your way around admitting to your lack of a specific skill (let’s just call that skill “Salesforce” for the sake of this example). Now, the interview is here, and it looks like you might just make it through without having to broach this dreaded topic.

But, just before you get up to leave, the interviewer asks, “What’s your experience with Salesforce?”


Don’t panic.

You can do this, and here’s how:

  • Before the interview, thoroughly read the job description and, if possible, look up people who work on the team you’d be joining. What skills are requested in the job description? What skills do your future colleagues have? What important skills does it look like you’re missing?
    • Once you figure out which skills you’re lacking, immediately start taking online courses for them. The courses don’t have to be from a prestigious university or even paid. They just have to teach you something about those skills.
  • Think of a time when you learned a similar skill (or any skill) at work. What was required of you? Why did you learn it? How long did it take?

Develop a killer answer.

You know the job interview question about your lacking skill is coming, so prepare your answer in advance. Here are two choices depending on which path you took in the previous exercise (or combine the two):

  • “I saw that skill was important to this role, so I already started a course on it. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…”
    • With this answer, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to the job and your drive to learn the needed skills.
  • “I don’t quite have that skill yet, but here’s an example from my last job where I quickly learned a new skill and leveraged my new knowledge to add value for my team. (Share example). I believe this demonstrates my ability to rapidly learn (whatever skill) and put that knowledge into practice as well.”
    • With this answer, you’ll provide a concrete example of how you learned something else to set the interviewer’s mind at ease that you genuinely will be able to learn the needed skill.

Go Forth with confidence.

Job interviews don’t have to be stressful. It helps to look at them as opportunities to find out what the company needs and demonstrate the solutions you have in your toolbox to solve their problems. By preparing in advance, you can successfully answer any question that comes your way about skills you don’t yet have. In doing so, you will prove yourself to be forward-thinking, committed, and dynamic – skills that will impress any interviewer.


On Key

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Gary* was a top-selling Account Executive at a leading technology company, rising to #1 in his region through a record-breaking sale. He was walking on