What’s holding you back in job interviews? Addressing the articulation gap
Have you ever struggled to addressed a skill question in a job interview? You are not alone if you could not provide an example to demonstrate your skills on the spot. For many candidates, it is not because they don’t have the skills needed – what’s missing is their ability to relate their experience to the selection criteria. This is what we call an “articulation gap”.
The articulation gap is very common amongst university students, graduates and those who are in the early stages of their career. Students are often busy juggling their study with casual and part time work, internship experiences, extra-curricular involvements, as well as their personal and family life. There is little time to stop and reflect on the skills they have developed.
Over time, it becomes a challenging task to think of a particular experience when asked to demonstrate a skill. This articulation gap affects students’ ability to prepare a good job application, and their ability to do well in job interviews and networking events.
Here are three quick steps to avoid and bridge the articulation gap:
1. Know what your potential employer wants
Knowing what your potential employer wants is the first step to bridge the articulation gap. In the 2021 AAGE Employer Survey, the top five competencies Australian graduate employers assessed were communication skills, teamwork, interpersonal skills, resilience and emotion intelligence.
How might this list be different for potential employers in your area of interest? What technical skills would you add to the list?
We encourage students to start scanning job ads from their first year of study. It is a great idea to develop a list of the common criteria for professional roles in your field. This list can serve as a checklist and a development plan that you will keep track of over the years of your study.
2. Reflect, record and celebrate
Get into the habit of reflecting on your experience regularly. A good timeframe is to do this at the end of each semester as you are wrapping up your classes.
What courses and assessments did you do well in? Did you participate in any internships, part time work, and extracurricular activities? Were you recognised for any of your work? Did you go above and beyond what is required of you in those experiences? What technical and soft skills did you develop over the semester?
Keep a record of the examples against your checklist of skills. This could simply be a headline to remind yourself of the experience and one to two bullet points on key information.
This reflection is a great opportunity to celebrate your achievements. It can also help you to set skill development goals for the next semester. Your ultimate objective is to have at least one example on each of the common selection criteria you have identified by the time you graduate.
3. Practise sharing your stories
How often do you share your experience with your family or your friends? Do you talk about it at uni, at work or at your internship?
In a way, answering interview questions are similar to storytelling. If it feels awkward to promote yourself and what you have to offer in a job interview, try sharing stories about your experience with people around you. Don’t make a job interview the only time to share things like this.
The more you practise sharing your stories, the more natural it will feel during a job interview. Of course, you do need to refine your stories each time when you prepare for a job interview. The examples you provide in an interview should be concise, relevant and positive.
An articulation gap can be addressed, so don’t let it hold you back from doing well in your next job interview. You can start now by putting 15 minutes in your diary to go through part of the steps above, popping in another 15 minutes each time as you go. Every small step you take will bring you closer towards the career you aspire to land.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
UTS Careers Manager
Eva is a psychologist and career development specialist with over 17 years of experience in higher education. Eva is passionate in empowering university students and graduates to achieve their academic and career goals.