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There is one job interview question capable of causing even veteran professionals to break into a cold sweat: “Tell me about your experience?”

Anyone who isn’t super confident about their work experience might look at successfully answering this question as an uphill battle. It becomes even trickier when you know you don’t have the exact experience the employer is seeking. Is this the end of the road for you? No way.

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you ready to tackle that question and ace the interview like a seasoned pro:

Ace your interview by…

  1. Doing your homework. Studying up on the company shows interest and initiative on your part. It also helps you identify ways the experience you do have can be applied to the role the company is seeking to fill. Any advice on how to ace an interview is going to include some amount of homework!
  2. Identifying an “in.” If company information is slim, go straight to the source. Ask the interviewer or HR liaison questions about the organization, its priorities, its vision, and more. Then apply your experience to their answers. Discuss how your skills tie into the company’s goals and vision.
  3. Nailing everything else. Maybe you’re not as strong on experience as you’d like to be, but that shouldn’t prevent you from scoring straight A’s on everything else. Arrive early, dress the part, and exhibit positive body language. (Think eye contact, a firm handshake, and good posture.) If you get the basics down, your lack of hands-on experience might not be seen by the potential employer as a deal breaker.
  4. Putting on a show.  Show what you can do! Headhunting specialist Nick Corcodilos suggests asking, “May I take a few minutes to show you, right now, how I would do this job?” Given the green light, you can show how you operate a computer, interact with a customer, outline a workflow, or something else relevant to the role.
  5. Filling in any gaps. Sites such as Coursera and iTunes U offer training programs (many free) from some of the most prestigious colleges and universities. Interested in a job that requires computer programming knowledge? Turn to Codecademy — which is also free. Dedication to learning your craft goes a long way with prospective employers. (And while you’re doing this, you can earn some money on the side thanks to these apps.)

If you’re not 100% qualified for the job on paper, you can still wow the interviewers in person! Try our tips and tricks and let us know in a comment below: if you have any work wisdom to share for how to ace an interview.

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