5 'Reach' Interview Tips to Help You Snag That Dream Job

Interview tips

Think it will take a miracle to pull off a job offer when you're going into a "reach" interview? What if we told you there are five interview tips that could lead to your dream job?

Here's the scenario that leads to the interview tips: A job description catches your eye: highly respected company, exciting position, great pay, and a close match to your skills — almost.

The door has been cracked open to your dream job, but that “almost” nags at you. Is the fact that the hiring manager is looking for someone with just a little more experience or an extra skill or two going to be a deal breaker? Are you worried that your nervousness will lead to an interview etiquette blunder? Can you even begin to answer the interview questions?

Perhaps the most valuable of the interview tips is to relax and remember that you’ve been invited for an interview, which means the company considers you a viable candidate, though maybe not the perfect fit. Also consider that there may be some leeway in the requirements listed in the job description.

Employers polled in a Robert Half survey said that identifying duties that are essential versus those that are simply “nice to have” is one of the greatest challenges when developing job descriptions for open positions.

In other words, you may be more qualified for the job than you realize. Here are the five interview tips to help you ace a “reach” interview and get that dream job offer:

1. Research and strategize 

Before the interview, come up with a strategy as to how you will bridge the gaps in your qualifications. For example, perhaps a finance administrator job calls for a candidate who can build and maintain relationships with finance software vendors, and you have no experience working with vendors in the past. To address this, begin by researching the type of software the company currently uses or requires, and prepare a list of vendors to discuss with the hiring manager. Reach out to your network and ask contacts about their experiences with these vendors so you’re well-informed and ready to discuss them during the interview.

2. Fill the gaps

Countering each of your weaknesses with a strength is an important piece of interview advice. For example, balance your lack of “nice-to-have” qualifications by emphasizing your education, certifications and your most impressive accomplishments in the field. By doing so, you can spin your shortcomings into a positive. “Even without qualification X, I did land four high-profile clients for my company, two of which are international, and developed new financial controls during a period of significant company revenue growth that passed all auditor inspections.”

3. Discuss your relevant experience

If your current or previous positions are in a different field, focus on your transferable skills. Don’t try too hard to make connections that just aren’t there. Some skills you possess just may not be applicable to this position. 

4. Use your network to find a credible referral

If, by looking at the references listed on your resume, a hiring manager knows that a respected expert in the field is willing to vouch for you as a candidate, he or she will be more willing to overlook that you don’t possess one of those “nice-to-have” qualifications. Tapping your financial network can also help you connect with colleagues familiar with the employer or position who may have more interview advice to offer.

5. Have the right attitude

If you know you can do this job well, act like it. Don’t be apologetic in the interview regarding your lack of experience; be confident in your skills and achievements. By accentuating your strengths and demonstrating your eagerness to learn and advance in your field, you can prove to the hiring manager that you’re the candidate the firm should hire.

You’ll never know if you have a chance at scoring that dream job unless you try. If you can connect the experience and skills you possess to the needs of the company in the interview, you’re sure to wow your future employer.

Need more skills in your toolbox?

Check out Robert Half’s free e-learning program for ways to keep your finance and accounting skills competitive in today's competitive job environment.