Tell Me About a Time You Lacked The (Skills/Experience/etc.) to Do What You Were Assigned

Tell me about a time you lacked the skills

Some of the answers I’ve heard are ridiculous.

“Well, I ignore the request.”

“I contact customer service and have them handle the problem.” 

“I’m looking for a job for that very reason.”

Do you think answering a question like that in that way is going to get you hired? Of course, not. But that’s what people do. They make these off-the-cuff remarks being completely unprepared for a question like this.

What a company is trying to do by asking you a question like this is trying to find out how you respond to difficult situations. What they’re hoping for is you’ll talk about perseverance, perseverance that’s going to help you work through a situation.

So if you don’t have the skills or experience to do a job, here’s how you answer.  “I remember initially being shocked that I received the request and I paused and I said, “I haven’t done this before.”

‘Yes, we know that.” Thus, they are asking you to do this because they believe you can do it and that’s why we’re asking you to do it’. So, what I did was I learned everything that I could. I interviewed a bunch of people related to what was being asked to do to understand what they need and how they believed they wanted the job to be done. Then, from there, I went out. I learned everything possible, wrestled with the alligator. I worked through my insecurities about it and eventually got to the point where I was able to more than deliver what everyone asked for. I got huge amounts of accolades from people and learned something about myself and my ability to work through things that I didn’t necessarily know at the beginning that will serve me very well

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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when I join your firm.”

Isn’t that a great answer? That’s because what you’re doing is acknowledging the effort that went into the job how you got recognized afterward, you delivered, and that you learned something from the experience.

Emotional intelligence is one of those things that firms like to see. They like to see that people aren’t going to cop an attitude, quit their jobs, tell them to go get someone else, stuff along those lines. They’re looking for maturity from you and working your way through a situation like this. They understand that it may be a struggle and that your perseverance and success is a great example of maturity.


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