Monday, August 26, 2013

Should I Still Interview Without All of the Qualifications?


I'm not sure if you check this e-mail, but I figured I would give it a shot! I have an interview next week to be a Sr. Administrative Assistant and I am super nervous! Honestly, I know I don't have all the qualifications, yet they still want to interview ME!

Do you think, even though I'm not the most qualified, I should still go to the interview? I am a super intelligent, fast-learner. I am also, passionate about my work and I LOVE to help others. I definitely was born with the nurturing gene!

I apologize for any grammatical and punctuation errors, but I wasn't sure if you even checked your e-mail.

Please, from the bottom of my heart, e-mail me back if you can.

Thank you!”

Dear CL,

Congratulations on landing an interview!  Thank you for the email! :)  And what a great question!  If you are not new to my blog you know that I answer reader questions thru my blog instead of thru your email address.  Also, please write an anonymous comment so I know you read my answer.  Here is my advice to you…

You asked, “Do you think, even though I'm not the most qualified, I should still go to the interview?”  My answer to you is a resounding yes and here’s why!

I know you stated you don’t have all of the qualifications.  However, I’m not sure you’re qualified to have an objective view with regard to being the most qualified.  HR and recruiting have done a lot of leg work to get a lot of candidates to apply.  I’m sure they have received a lot of resumes.  And they’ve carefully sorted thru those resumes to narrow down the pool of applicants.  So unless you’ve seen every resume they got, you won’t know how you compare.  And even if they showed you your competition, you’d have to know what exactly they were looking for and valued.  Sure you saw a job description, but many times it is old, inaccurate, or a very simple summary that it’s almost not helpful at all.  On top of that, their ideal candidate is based on many things - prior experience, years of experience, office culture fit, personality fit, pay scale, and a host of other things.  They also walk the fine line of wanting someone who knows the job, but not so well that they are bored and were ready for a promotion 3 years ago.  Or perhaps they want a smart self starter to learn all the basics now because in a few years this job will grow and they want to groom someone from the ground up.  So while you may have read the skills and talents listed and know for a fact you don’t know how to do x, y, or z or only know it at the beginner level, what you may not know is ALL the applicants are like that.  So, you actually can be the strongest applicant because you have all the other skills or a few of the most important ones.  Believe it or not, I’ve gotten interviews because I had this obscure messenger/IM type program listed on my resume that no one else did.  However, as you and I know, most IM programs work the same, but the head hunter needed to find a resume with that SPECIFIC program listed because that’s what the client demanded.  So, you never really know why you get an interview, and it’s not important why.

When recruiters select people to interview, they usually pick three.  This provides a well-rounded balance.  They usually also have one candidate in mind as the “top choice.”  However, it’s not uncommon that 5 or more people are interviewed because some people are much better in interviews than on paper or vice versa.  

Your main goal as a job seeker is to get a lot of interviews, which eventually will lead to a job offer.  The better you become at interviewing, the more interviews and job offers you will get.  So how do you do that?  Be yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses and how to overcome them, and always be nice and gracious.  

What you should NOT do is point out your faults, admit you think you are the least qualified, or inquire about the competition in any specific way.  Even if you are adamant that you are the least qualified person (to yourself), the fact that they asked to meet with you means something in your application caught their eye.  Perhaps they do want an atypical person, it helps to shake things up and get a new perspective.  Also, keep in mind that even if you absolutely BOMB the interview, it will give you a great learning lesson on how NOT to interview.  

My rule of thumb is I will ALWAYS accept an interview.  You get to meet so many types of people, see other offices, learn about other industries, get a vibe of the office culture, and you get to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE all the different interviewing techniques!  There is nothing better than a real interview to get  you slightly nervous and to perfect how you want to present yourself as a viable applicant.  Practice a little, but not too much so you sound rehearsed.  

I am so happy you stated this:  I am a super intelligent, fast-learner. I am also, passionate about my work and I LOVE to help others. I definitely was born with the nurturing gene!

All those things you mentioned above are qualities every recruiter and executive are looking for.  It is so hard to find a happy, hard-working, smart, eager, and helpful employee.  This is very much a trait that is not taught, but part of one’s personality and life outlook.  If anything, this is THE most important skill to have.  Everyone is smart, anyone can be taught anything, but do they want to be taught?  Are they happy to learn and grow?  Are they excited to take on new challenges?  Are they humble enough to know they don’t know everything?  And are they able to do all of it while nurturing and looking after their department or executive?  

I have no doubt HR did not choose you by mistake.  I have no doubt you will do well and go far in your career because you are always looking to improve yourself.  I wish you the best of luck and would love an update once you finally land somewhere if you chose!  Otherwise, I hope my answer was helpful to you!  

***New “rule” - when you ask me a question for anonymous advice and I answer it, could you write an anonymous comment so I know you read the post?  You can just write “Thx!” or something!  :) 

As always, I usually tweet any new posts I have. And anyone can email me questions and I respond only via this blog, not to your personal address. It usually takes me 5-6 days to answer.

I also write over at under Hollywood Executive Assistant.


  1. I wanted to throw in a word of advice to any new admins just starting out or wanting to pursue this path... Fake it til you make it! Be confident that you can do anything your boss needs you to do. EAs do so many different tasks it is almost impossible to list each one. Every day is a different list of things to do and even after 13 years I still get to learn new things. Just today my boss asked me to create an animated banner in our SharePoint site in html... ok, sure! No problem! *google, google, google... DONE!
    I wish you the best of luck and I am curious to know if you got the job and what you think of it?

  2. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Exec Asst.January 17, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Amber - I hope we get to find out too if she got the job! Your above advice is spot on!