What happens when you know you’d be brilliant at a job even though it’s very different to anything you’ve done before? Maybe a friend or relative secured you the interview?
Let’s think through how to “blag your way in” with a suggested 9-step plan.
First you need to be convinced. If you are then it’ll be easier to convince your interviewer. A clear mindset can help you land a great role even where, at least theoretically, you’re not necessarily experienced or qualified for it.
The key is finding where you have “transferable skills” or experience. For this you’ll need to put yourself “in their shoes”. What is it you’ve achieved before that will sound almost exactly like what they’re looking for? You’ve got to show how you’ve done something so similar it might as well have been in the new job.
3. Strip it back
Work out the “real” core requirements of the job. Mostly they’ll be related to the following:
Being organised, problem solving, measuring or monitoring, teamwork, adapting to change, talking to people and reading / writing / arithmetic
Now identify a couple of times when you’ve been brilliant at each one of these skills.
4. Search for …the “bridges”
Look for the linkages that show where these examples are relevant. Now practise explaining how they relate to the new job. You’ll need to be careful what words you use to avoid distracting your interviewer with references to other sectors or irrelevant job titles etc. You may also want to expand on why this is a great comparison and to spell out the connections clearly for your audience to understand your line of thinking.
5. Search for …the people
Find someone, or alternatively - someone who knows someone, who’s done a similar job. You’ll be amazed what your social / work networks will yield. If you look hard enough there’s always someone you can meet for a coffee, call, email or send a message to, who can give you some nuggets of advice about the job, organisation and sector.
People love to be put in the role of “expert” so now you can test out whether you’re on the right lines with the core skills and “bridges” you’ve been working on.
6. Learn quickly
Arm yourself with a couple of stunning answers to “when have you been a quick learner?”. Firstly because these will be useful in any interview and, secondly, because you’ve got to convince your interviewer that the next person in this job doesn’t need relevant skills or experience… they just need to be adaptable and willing to learn!
Sound and look like your interviewers to make it as easy as possible for them to imagine you in the job. Use their words in your answers – the ones in the advert, job description or on their website / publicity material. Dress in a similar style to them. Check out their dress “culture” before you arrive with anyone who knows the place or try to catch a glimpse outside their premises / in corporate videos etc
(If you’re feeling ready for advanced level “reflections” you could even experiment with some small scale body language “mirroring” - although you’ll need to be very subtle please.)
8. Turn on the charm
Do your homework! Research their sector, organisation and the role itself. Know what their “hot topics” and current issues are so you can demonstrate your passion and commitment to the new job. Be the “answer” to their most relevant problem.
9. Why you?
Work out what you have that’s unique to you and potentially valuable to them. This is your “unique selling point”. You may even have more than one thing that’s different about you and what you can bring to this role – besides the benefit of having a ”different perspective” (i.e. no “relevant” experience… at least on paper!)
To blag or not to blag?
Once you’ve been through the 9 steps above thoroughly then please ask yourself whether or not you’re convinced you could do the job. If the answer is “yes” then you’re probably ready to test the blag.
Claire B Jenkins runs her own company – 121 Interview Coaching. Working with individuals and groups to unlock their confidence, secure them an impact and to practise what they’ll say.
She is the author of: “How to Succeed at your Next Interview”
Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle versions.
Claire is also a panel expert and Senior Visiting Lecturer at both the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Worcester