Skill fit: Do you really have it?

You may think you have the right skills and experience for a particular role – but how close are you really to meeting the requirements of the hiring manager?

During the application process – through your CV, screening conversations, and at interview the recruiter and/or hiring manager will be assessing your skills as they relate to your functional fit. i.e. how well your knowledge, skills and experience align to the functional requirements. Functional fit may also include the use of assessment tests to determine how well you will perform in specific areas.

Research: Look out for hidden functional challenges!

It’s important to remember that the job ad – and sometimes the Position Description, may only provide an overview of the functional requirements – above the waterline. What’s sometimes not covered in the job ad or position description – but often more important, is referred to as ‘below the waterline’. As a candidate you can develop a much stronger positioning if you research above and below the waterline functions, and align those to your own functional experience and supporting achievements to assess and communicate functional fit.

Research the opportunity by using various channels; recruitment consultants, the hiring manager, their reports, and your own networks. Online information and contacts from LinkedIn, company web sites, media articles, company reports, recent projects etc can add a lot to the basket of information you collect during your functional research.

Know your value proposition

Ensuring you understand the functional requirements of the role and aligning these to your functional experience and outcomes will enable you to develop compelling value statements that in turn enable you to articulate your value proposition.

You’re not alone!

As a professional branding coach one of the key challenges my clients want me to work on with them is to develop their value proposition in order to more effectively sell themselves by applying a solutions based focus.

In one of my articles ‘5 Interview Skills that Win’ I covered the fundamentals of what you need to focus on during your interview. Overwhelmingly, the feedback from this article was that point 5 was the most difficult to nail. “What is my value?”. Key to positioning yourself to win your next role will be your ability to align and articulate your value supported by your skills and experience – all in the context of your prospective hiring managers functional requirements.

What you say and write must resonate with your audience.

If your message resonates you will more obviously demonstrate a compelling reason to hire YOU.

5 Parts

Here’s how you can assess and address Functional Fit by H.A.B.I.T.

  1. Hot Buttons

    There will be key issues, challenges, and strategic deliverables that your prospective role must address. These are often the things that keep the hiring manager awake at night or cause untold grief if they’re not executed correctly. These are the ‘Hot Buttons’. Find out what these are. Ask your key point of contact and research additional background information so you have some context for developing your value proposition and providing answers during the interview.

  2. Addressing Hot Buttons

    Look for opportunities to weave Hot Buttons into your answers. Remember questions are included to test your competencies around the functional areas and key challenges of the role. The actual competency may be masked by a vague reference, so you need to listen for key words that provide clues to an appropriate response. Take your time when answering a question and where you think necessary, qualify the context of the question. When responding try to use specific names, terms or phrases that will resonate with the interviewer.

  3. Benefit statement?

    The hiring manager will be searching for answers which clearly articulate what’s in it for them. When providing examples of achievements keep in mind that unless there is obvious benefit to the hiring manager your answer wont resonate – and worse, will demonstrate a lack of understanding of a key issue(s) or task(s) at hand. Benefits should be identified up front in your answer. For example: “I was able to achieve a 15% cost save through… [‘in what way’]”.

  4. In What Way?

    There’s not much point in waffling on about some amazing achievement if you don’t succinctly explain the way in which you got there. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to apply experience and transferable skills to the hiring managers needs. It also provides the hiring manager with a degree comfort and their ability to mitigate risk by hiring you. Keep your answers succinct. Read more on how to keep your answers succinct here.

  5. Truth of Proof

    A well articulated achievement will provide the perception of proof supporting your claim to a specific skill. Your achievements must be credible, creditable to you – what your contribution was, and relevant to the question. This is one time where using the word “I” does matter. Using “we” will leave the interviewer guessing. Claiming certain skills unsupported by examples of application creates more questions than answers. Be clear about YOUR contribution.

Get all of your ducks in a row!

Your CV and LinkedIn Profile

Your CV and LinkedIn profile must be optimised to address the functional requirements of the specific role. Look for transferable skills. Be aware of proprietary titles and functional areas – those creative descriptors that no-one outside of your existing or previous organisation recognise, but can be aligned to other descriptors. You could consider putting in brackets the more popularly recognised title or function.

  • Tailor your CV according to each role – optimising and prioritising to the functional requirements of the role.
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile properly lists and orders your skills.
  • Weave skills into statements and support with evidence and achievements.
  • Ensure your CV and LinkedIn profile compliment each other and that there are no inconsistencies in skill / functional alignment.

Your Interview:

Be prepared with relevant examples that include the skills which address the functional areas of the role you’re applying for.

Sample Functional Fit questions:

  • Sales role: Walk me through the most complex sale you’ve ever made and why you believe it was complex.
  • Marketing role: What are some of the biggest issues you’ve encountered in product launch plans, and how did you overcome them?
  • Administrative Assistant role: What have you found are the most important skills for being successful in the role of an administrative assistant?
  • Database Administrator role: Walk me through your process of troubleshooting problems/issues.

Remember to weave your application of specific skills into your examples and relate the functional fit questions into the needs of the organisation – directly as it relates toy the role you are being interviewed for.


During your job search, ensure you develop a clear understanding of the functional requirements for each role. Evaluate your functional fit and clearly articulate your value proposition throughout each phase.

In my last article I outlined the importance of researching cultural fit when progressing your job search.

Read more about cultural fit here.


Follow Craig McAlpine and

Twitter: @MyCareerBrand #MyCareerBrand





About Craig:

Craig works with his career clients to build their Personal Brand, LinkedIn Profile, Curriculum Vitae (CV) and interview skills.  He also works with corporates and individuals who require assistance to build their internal brand, Outplacement/Career Transition, and to engineer inbound traffic for their sales teams.

He is recognised for his ability to develop his clients’ communication skills to enable them to sell their value proposition to managers for internal advancement, employers and recruitment consultants, increasing their confidence, and positioning them to find and win career opportunities.

Craig draws on over 20 years of leadership experience within various sectors including Recruitment, Professional Services, Financial Services, and Technology, supported by a strong background in Sales and Marketing.

His clients span from New Zealand, Australia, UAE and across to the UK, and his career advice articles are read by many thousands of career mined individuals across more than 135 countries.


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, CV, Interview Skills, Personal Brand, Skills
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