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March 2010
When the Interview Turns Out to Not Match the Description!
by Susan Reynolds

And did you even get in the door? 

Every job opportunity is precious in this economy.  So imagine how frustrating it would be to think that the position description in a job posting was profoundly inaccurate.  You would have been incredibly qualified.  You would have been exactly perfect for the position.  It would have been a great opportunity.  It could have solved all your problems.

But you didn’t get in the door.

Why?  Because the individual who wrote the posting, or the job description, was not in fact totally knowledgeable about the needs of the organization.  They did not accurately state the requirements, specifications, and performance parameters that would be necessary.   And you got screened out before you ever had a chance to sell yourself to a decision-maker!

So how to combat this discouraging phenomenon?  First, read the job posting VERY carefully.  Presuming that you are knowledgeable about the functions being advertised be watchful for requirements that just don’t make sense.  As you respond to the posting, make sure that you’re writing “beyond” the specification, conjecturing more deeply as to the results the organization is probably trying to achieve.  For example, don’t just meet software requirements, talk about the results you’ve generated across your career with the projects in which you use the software.  You must not be misleading, or purport to be an expert in an area in which you’re not.  Speak about results not just mechanics.

Last but not least, it still all comes down to personal contact with decision-makers.  If you can get in the door to talk to the right person, the person with the needs, you stand the best chance at winningly selling yourself!

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at Newmarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search and career strategy firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers.  She can be reached at or

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