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Interview Tips: How To Answer "What Are Your Qualifications?"
When an interviewer asks about your qualifications, it’s your opportunity to highlight the skills, experience and education that will be assets to the organization. Prepare your answers ahead of time so you can go into an interview with confidence.
Study the Job Announcement
The job announcement will tell you what the employer is looking for in a qualified candidate. These are the first points you should address in a resume and a job interview. Here’s an example of a job posting for an administrative assistant:
“We are looking for an Administrative Assistant to manage the office and provide support to the sales team. Our organization is seeking a person who is efficient and works well independently and as part of a team. Essential skills are the ability to multi-task, problem-solve, and complete tasks on or before deadline. Basic office skills are required, including typing, filing and operation of office machines, including multi-line telephones. Minimum of a high school diploma and one to two years of office experience.”
Key words and phrases in this job announcement include: efficient, team, multi-task, problem solve, deadline, typing, filing, office equipment, high school diploma and one to two years of experience. These are points you want to address directly in your resume and during the job interview. When an interviewer for this job asks about your qualifications, you can summarize them this way:
“I have an associate’s degree in business, and while I was in school, I worked in the office at ABC Company. I was one of three clerical assistants who provided administrative support to the management team. I prepared different kinds of documents, including letters, memos and reports. I never missed a deadline. I organized and maintained files and schedules. I filled in for the receptionist when she was on break or at lunch. I trained the new employee who took over my position.”
Craft an Elevator Pitch
A summary such as this one is sometimes called an “elevator pitch.” Imagine you’re in an elevator, and you have under a minute to convince someone to hire you. The response in the administrative assistant example highlights how the candidate meets or exceeds the hiring manager’s expectations. In an elevator pitch, you provide a substantial amount of information in a very short amount of time. It gives you and the interviewer a starting point for a more detailed dialogue.
Look at Similar Job Announcements
Look online for other career qualifications examples. There may be other skills or requirements that employers typically seek for a position that don’t appear in the announcement to which you’re responding. Jobs websites such as CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed and ZipRecruiter have thousands of listings. Educate yourself on the common career qualifications sought for a specific job title or within a particular industry.
Bring Your Resume to the Interview
A hiring manager may or may not have a copy of your resume for the job interview. Maybe it was misplaced, or perhaps it’s sitting on someone else’s desk, waiting for review. Be prepared by bringing a copy of your resume to the employment interview. You can hand it to the interviewer if asked, which emphasizes that you’re organized and ready to talk about the ways in which you can be an asset to the employer.
During the interview process, you’re essentially connecting the dots for your prospective employer. You’re demonstrating how your skills, experience and abilities will benefit the organization. The resume gives you an outline for the conversation. It’s typical for job candidates to be somewhat nervous during the interview process. Even with preparation, you might forget something important you want to say. Use your resume to keep the focus on your qualifications. Show the employer that you’re the right person for the job.
Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for eHow.com, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.