Using Transferable Skills at Your Job Interview

Take a micro pause and align your answer with the skills you will use to solve the underlying need behind the question.

Take a micro pause and align your answer with the skills you will use to solve the underlying need behind the question.

Do you leave your transferable skills at the door of the interview room?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing…. Right?  Well not when you’ve blown the interview it isn’t.  That’s a lost opportunity – however you call it.

During your interview you need to unleash the power of your transferable skills.  Use these assets by relating and addressing the needs of the prospective employer.

No point in complaining that “they didn’t get my experience” after you’ve received the ‘Sorry – but no thanks’ communication.  Actually – what happened was that you didn’t outline how you would deliver benefit to the prospective employer by applying your transferable skills.  Actually – you may have slept walked your way through the interview without even noticing your lost opportunities.

Amongst other words and phrases – two words I ask my clients to try and avoid when interviewing are  ‘Can’t’ and ‘But’.


  • ‘Can’t’ implies ‘I won’t’ or ‘I have, but I will fail’.  Or simply – ‘I lack the skills’.
  • ‘But’ provides a negative ‘rider’ or a powerful hint of your inability to execute a requirement of the role.

For a change, how about using the word ‘and’.

The word ‘and’ is not just a joining word – it’s a vehicle for you to add a positive addition by applying a transferable skill.  A bit like – ‘but wait there’s more!

An example question; “Have you ever been involved in a project where your primary sponsor has departed and left the project in limbo?”  You may not have been exposed to the exact scenario – so how do you answer the question?

It’s not about misleading or embellishing.  It is about thinking smartly – and after all that’s why you’re being interviewed.  So, how smart and creative will you be at executing the role you’re interviewing for – and beyond (your potential)?  How about taking a micro pause before answering.  Think about the context of the question before you blurt out “I can’t / haven’t….” or “I….. but I haven’t really…”.

Think about how you can articulate your transferable skills and experience. Your success, your failures and key learnings to add value through thought leadership.  Bring those recollections and thoughts into your answer.  So, you end up transferring and adapting your skills to gain a positive outcome.  It goes something like this:

Yes – I have been involved in a similar situation and this is how I will manage the scenario you have described……”.

So what are you doing here?

You’re saying “I can”.  You’re saying “I have the ability to transfer the benefits of my skills and experience to your business” and I can apply and adapt my skills to new situations”.  And – the killer outcome of your response is…. “I can solve your problem!”  You are adaptable.  You have learned how to apply key learnings.  You are going to be able to bring experience and value to the table through the alignment and transfer of your skills to new applications.

Lets apply the ‘Traffic Light Test.  Remember – this is not about embellishing or misleading your interviewer.  It’s about digging deep and thinking smart.

  • Green = Positive Answer using a Transferable Skill; a credible example of application and a satisfied interviewer
  • Orange = Ambiguous Answer and a confused interviewer
  • Red = Negative Answer and a dissatisfied interviewer

Test yourself with some scenario based questions before you go to your interview.

For every positive word / answer, colour it green.

For every ambiguous answer – colour it orange.

For every negative answer – colour it red.

Ideally there should only be green.

See if you can colour your interview answers with green.  Transfer and adapt your skills, be creative and win a new opportunity.

Visit for more helpful tips on winning interviews

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Contact: Phone: +64 21 666 807, +64 9 5222802 e-mail: Craig McAlpine's Linked In profile: MISSION Working with Job Search Candidates to build their go-to-market strategy, develop powerful marketing collateral such as their CV, LinkedIn profile and social media presence, and ultimately to secure a new role that is not only rewarding but also assists them on their career journey. EXPERTISE Career Coaching - LinkedIn Training - LinkedIn Optimisation - Personal Branding - Job Hunt: Go to Market Strategy and Collateral - CV design and preparation - Interview skills INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE - Professional Services - Information Technology - Banking and Finance - Recruitment

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Posted in Curriculum Vitae, Interview Skills, jobs, Recruitment

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