​How to discuss transferable skills in your job interview

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Transferable skills are often soft skills, that you have learned in other roles whether in a professional setting or in a personal experience.

When applying for roles where you may not have the full scope of experience, but know you have the full capability to adapt, you should keep the topic of transferable skills top of mind.

Here are our top tips on how to discuss your transferable skills in a job interview!

List your greatest qualities beforehand

To give yourself some confidence, as well as a good reminder of the skills you possess, write down your top skills that you believe would be useful and relevant to the roles you have applied for. It can also be helpful to make note of examples and situations where you exhibited these skills so that they are fresh in your mind and you can easily speak on them when they come up.

Think about the role and what skills would appeal to the employer

When making your list, or after making your list, highlight or emphasise the skills you think will be most important to the employer, both for their organisation and the role. This way you can focus more attention on these skills, potentially offering more than one example. Sometimes our soft skills can come from multiple different experiences – it can be nice to express both professional and personal experiences which led to your skillfulness. This will give the employer a good impression of how you easily adapt and pick up skills as well as showing your personality which can be something that sets you apart.

Follow up with evidence and explanation

Always make sure to follow up mention of your skill with evidence and explanation. For example, it is not enough to merely say “I am very well organised and pride myself on my time management”, it should always be followed up with an example, and an explanation of that task. You could continue saying “for example, on my most recent project I was able to finish before the deadline which brought forward the following project, putting me and my team in a good position to have more time and energy for future tasks”.

Unlike in the above example, it is important to be very specific to your experiences. You should even mention statistics or numbers if they are applicable. It’s important to ‘show’ and not just ‘tell’ when speaking on your skills.

Listen for opportune moments to share

Some questions might not start out with a straightforward way of mentioning your skills, sometimes, questions are asked in a roundabout way where you might have to talk about the ‘evidence and explanation’ first, whilst then clarifying the skill that demonstrates afterward. For example, “Are you confident with team leadership?” and “Tell me about a time where you considered yourself successfully leading a team.” are essentially the same question. Be mindful and aware to listen for space where you can introduce new and different experiences that show off your skillset.

Talk about how you learn new skills

Make sure that ‘fast learner’ and ‘adaptability’ are two skills high on your ‘to talk about’ list. Most of the time, employers don’t necessarily look for people who already know everything about the proposed role, but rather they look for people who can be molded into the role, who have the skills that are adjacent and complementary to what is required from a person to be successful in that role.

In simple words, it’s not always what you already know, it’s also what you are capable of doing and learning. As always, back up your fast learning skills with examples!

Share any accomplishments

Last but not least, find a way to work in your accomplishments. Often these will be examples that you can offer an explanation for. It is helpful to keep those listening ears alert for moments of opportunity in this case especially. You may not get asked flat out, “what are your greatest accomplishments?” but you may get asked how you handle certain situations, or when you displayed certain characteristics which are some examples of important chances to speak on your accomplishments.


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