Every expert was once a beginner.
-- Helen Hayes, American theater actress
If you’ve ever felt nervous about pursuing something new, you're NOT alone!
A quick internet search for imposter syndrome brings up thousands of stories about people doubting themselves.
You might feel imposter syndrome when the interviewer asks you:
"Why should we hire you if you don't have much experience in this field?"
The key to overcoming it? Prepare, practice, and keep going.
Come up with an answer that will position you as a strong candidate for the job, even if you have little to no experience in the field!
Why is this question important?
When this question comes up, the interviewer is seeking assurance that you’re interested and capable of learning new things.
It's also an opportunity to clarify what value-adding perspectives or experiences you bring to their team.
How do you answer the question?
Here are three ways to provide an answer to this question:
Share how you’ve previously learned something new. Then, explain how you’d apply that strategy to ensure you get up to speed in this role.
Ask the interviewer if they have a specific knowledge gap that they’re most concerned about.
Write down their response and think of an example that relates to that topic.
Even if you don't have direct experience with the topic, go ahead and express your interest in learning more about it and how you’d be excited to get up to speed to bring long-term value to the company.
Reference the qualifications from the job description that you do have experience with and how they would bring value to the role.
If you've made it to the interview stage, there's something they like about you already! Use this as an opportunity to highlight some of the areas where you feel you bring the most value.
Joni’s interviewing for a social media coordinator role at a popular pet supply store. When the interviewer asks Joni, “Why should we hire you if you don’t have much experience in this field?” their heart rate picks up and the butterflies come back. Joni has prepared a few examples to answer this very question:
a. Joni worked at a local clothing store on the weekends and helped the manager build their Instagram following. Joni styled and posted photos of new merchandise, created a weekly post about garment care tips, and set up their Instagram shopping page.
b. Joni constantly posts photos of their cat, Bubbles, to their personal social media accounts. Joni has nearly 1,000 followers and gains about 5 followers with each post.
c. Joni has a deep passion for animals and has volunteered at the local animal shelter with their family each year.
Based on the role Joni's interviewing for, which example should Joni respond with?
Sample Answers to Consider
Sometimes, you just need a few words to get started. Practice answering this interview question by using the following prompts as guides.
“Although I don’t have any direct experience, I do…”
Finish this sentence with an example of how you learned something new with no previous knowledge, the successful outcome of your approach, and how you’d apply that strategy in this role.
"I know I have much to learn, and I’m looking for an opportunity that will let me build a solid professional foundation."
Adapt this response to express your interest and excitement to learn about this field while emphasizing a desire to grow with the company.
“While I have room to learn in that area, I do bring multiple skills and experience that this job requires, including…”
Reference the job description for transferable skills that you do have. Prepare examples of these skills to share with the interview panel in case they ask.
Remember, they’re already interested in you!
You just need to show them that you can fill in the experience gap with your skills, knowledge, and attitude.