How To Demonstrate Competence When Seeking Promotion (Without Direct Evidence)
Organisations generally have a variety of interviewing techniques and other requirements, whether you’re applying for an entry-level role or seeking to get ahead. Often, one of the favoured methods is the competence-based interview, you know, the ones that start with “Tell us about a time when…” or “Can you give an example of when you have…”. Whilst these are often relatively straight-forward if you’re moving into a role that you’re already qualified for, what do you do if you’re looking to make a step-up in your career, or to move into a new field, and you don’t already have evidence of being able to do what you’re being asked about?
Break the question down
Firstly, don’t panic! You’ve got to the interview because your CV fits the brief the person sat opposite you was looking to fill, so something you’ve already accomplished has been noted by the interviewer. Once you’re beyond the anxious stage, you’ve then just got to break the question down. The interviewer is trying to work out how well you’ll fill the vacancy, which you’ve already researched as part of your interview preparation, and so this is a case of joining the dots. the main thing here is to work out what the interviewer is actually looking for, and then working out which part of your experience most closely fits the bill. For example, if you’re asked about a specific task that you’ll be required to do in your new role, you could explain that you’ve never had to perform the task in the past, but that having looked into the role you have ideas about how it could be done, and then give an example of where you’ve picked up tasks quickly in the past.
Of course, if you haven’t researched the role, or a curve-ball question arises, remember not to talk yourself into a corner. A straight acknowledgement that you hadn’t considered the interviewer’s question from that perspective, but you’ve had experience in other, closely related, areas is almost as compelling.
Learn about the role
You should also remember that, whilst you’re the one being interviewed, this is your chance to learn about the role too. If there are specific tasks that you don’t think you should have been able to research, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the interviewer to give you some background information, or to re-frame the question in a manner that you can adapt your answer to more appropriately. A simple question, along the lines of “I haven’t come across that previously, and I didn’t see it when I was researching the role. Are you able to give me the context so that I can explain where I’ve been able to perform a similar activity in the past?” is polite, honest and shows a willingness to think on your feet.
Attitude as much as ability
Then finally, remember that an interview is more marathon than sprint. If you have an experienced hiring manager sat opposite you, then they’re likely looking for attitude as much as ability, providing of course that you meet the basic requirements for the role, so make sure that you give thorough answers, even if you can’t tick every box. No-one can tick every box, so it’s about making sure you tip the scales in your favour at each opportunity.
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