How To Use An Employer Job Spec Before An Interview

How To Use An Employer Job Spec Before An Interview


As much as certain companies are attractive as employers, remember, you are interviewing for a specific role within a company. 

Internal mobility, culture, matching your longer-term ambition, etc. are all components of making a company attractive but you need to get in the door first and that means nailing the interview for a particular job. 

Being called for an interview means that the potential employer feels that you have the skills to do the job on a functional level. 

Remember, you’re as likely to get a job interview when you meet 50% of job requirements as when you meet 90% of them . . .

You’re as likely to get a job interview when you meet 50% of job requirements as when you meet 90% of them.

An analysis of job ads and resumes for 6,000+ applications across 118 industries revealed that, while matching requirements is important, you don’t necessarily need to match all of them.

In fact, your chances of getting an interview start to go up once you meet about 40% of job requirements.


Important Preparation - Understand The Job Spec

There may be skills gaps but nothing that can not be overcome so understanding the job spec and its context within the firm is important preparation.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Functional Matching – Literally have your CV and Job Spec side by side and tick off any responsibilities you have experience with AND highlight any you don’t. You should know, going into any interview, where are your technical strengths and weaknesses. What can you do and deliver in your sleep and where there are any skills gaps. 
  2. Wider Context – Where does this role fit and who are the likely internal stakeholders? Companies will want to know that you understand the context of a specific role and its impact across the business. A lot of companies are moving away from siloed mentalities and trying to foster a deeper understanding. 
  3. Pitch for the role, not the company – You will absolutely want to make sure that an interviewer understands that the company excites you but remember, there is a specific role to fill. Do a good job and all good things will come. It is like an exam – Make sure you are answering the question that is asked, not the question you want to answer.
  4. Add value and demonstrate experience – You likely have a good grasp of a particular role you are interviewing for through experience so demonstrate it with tangible examples. If you know the pitfalls of a process through your previous experience, show that you understand it but also what solutions or ideas do you have about how it can be overcome or de-risked.
  5. Systems Switching – Often, people are put off if they have not used a system or piece of technology. This goes back to skills gaps, what systems have you used that perform the same function if you have not used one listed on a spec. Remember, you were called for an interview because the interviewers think you can do the role, all you need to do is give them comfort that you can bridge any gaps. Go above and beyond, is there a trial you can do of a system or a video you can watch? Most software companies have some form of explainer! 

Remember, a job spec is a functional document.

A good spec will give you the detail on what a role involves but it is not the full picture. There will be things that come up during the interview that are not on a spec but covering off what is, gets you most of the way there. 

Next Steps

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