A reader writes:
I’m the sole internal candidate interviewing to be my work team’s manager. This team is newly formed, and the person originally tapped to manage resigned before actually holding the position (no drama: it was for family reasons). Subsequently, the job description was changed to include some technical expertise that neither the original manager nor I possess (my knowledge in this area is at a very basic level, though I’ve been actively learning more since joining this team). I harbor few illusions about my chances–if they want someone with the tech experience, then that’s who they’ll hire. However, I am well-qualified in other areas of the position, think the interview is a good opportunity to remind management about what I have to offer, and hope that perhaps they’ll consider reversing their revised expectations for the role.
My one worry: I’ve learned that part of the interview requires a review of my technical portfolio, which is colossally weak. How do I gracefully address this glaring weakness without looking foolish? I don’t mind being honest with verbal questions, but am a bit freaked about pulling out a physical thing and having it look so amateurish compared to the other polished portfolios they’ll likely see from external candidates.
Well, here’s the thing: You don’t want a job that you can’t do well at. So if the work you can show in your portfolio is a deal-breaker for them, you want to know that now — not after you’re already hired. Otherwise, you can end up in a job you’ll struggle in or even get fired from.
So I’d actually address this head-on; don’t try to disguise it or gloss it over. Say directly: “As you can see, I don’t have a ton of technical experience with X, although I’ve been actively working on learning. Are you looking for someone who will come in already having a higher level of knowledge in this area?”
You’ll look far stronger if you present an accurate inventory of your own strengths and weaknesses and appear more interested in whether you’re the right match for what they need than in simply getting the job offer.