Talking About Skills That Are 'a Reach'

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Phil Rosenberg, president of the site reCareered, believes that uttering these words equate to committing job interview suicide: "I haven't done it, but I could learn." Of course you could learn. Instead, he suggests, talk about a similar problem that you've solved.


You'll find similar advice from Miriam Salpeter at the Keppie Careers site, though she's talking about skills "that are a reach." She explains it this way:

... what if most everything on the job description is a great match for your skills, but they want one or two skills or accomplishments you don't really have a lot to say about?

As an example, she uses leadership skills. Perhaps you haven't had much opportunity to lead in your job. What then?


One tactic would be to talk about situations in which you exhibited leadership outside of work. Perhaps you organized the school pancake breakfast or lead a team in raising a lot of money for charity. Even high school and college students can gain valuable experience with volunteer work.


Another strategy, Salpeter says, is to think about the attributes of a leader and talk about how you have shown those traits at work. She mentions these among the qualities of a leader:


  • Shows (and takes) initiative - enthusiastically.
  • Has strong communication skills.
  • Can think on his or her feet and make decisions.
  • Is focused on the best possible ways to get the job done.
  • Is able to convince others of a viewpoint or plan - and inspire them to cooperate.


The example she gives sounds too much like hem-hawing with too many "ands" for my taste, but here it is:

When I think of the best leaders, they demonstrate dedication and confidence, can think ahead and make good decisions and have strong relationships with their teammates. (Then, tell a story illustrating a time when you used those skills.)

Based on the job description, it's best to plan ahead and rehearse what you would say about skills that "are a reach." Just hope it doesn't include telling about a time when you implemented a VoIP system.