HOW TO ANALYZE A JOB DESCRIPTION

Is it important to analyze a job description to prepare for a job interview?

I like to call this “knowing what you are interviewing for”.  It sounds basic, but it is important and often taken for granted. Knowing what you are interviewing for is more than just knowing the job title and position basics. It means taking a deep dive into dissecting the job description and knowing how to apply your past experience to the job being filled.

In terms of the anatomy of a job description, there are usually 4 main parts: the overview, the responsibilities, the requirements, and the desired attributes:

THE OVERVIEW

Usually a few very general sentences about the job – if the job had an elevator pitch this would be it. The most high level description will be found here and it won’t be very difficult to decipher.

Be able to easily weave your personal story and background together with pieces of the overview to come up with a powerful one or two line statement about why this is the right role for you

THE RESPONSIBILITIES

The meat of the description is here. These should be read, slowly, carefully, line by line. The person who wrote this is probably going to be your direct manager and the bullets in this section are really what will be expected of you every day should you get the job.

There are likely going to be some things you’ve done before and others that you haven’t.  For those responsibilities that you’ve done before, come up with an example of a time when you have done that task very well – for those that you have not done before, think of experiences you have had that could be applied to this type of task – need clarity on a point? feel free to ask about that during the interview.

THE REQUIREMENTS/QUALIFICATIONS

This is probably the most important section but if you have been given the chance to interview, you likely meet these already. Whoever has the most at stake in this process came up with a list of wants, needs, or maybe non-negotiables, that a candidate must have.

If you were called in for an interview, you probably do meet many of these already, which is great!  Similar to the above, identify the requirements you meet and do not meet. For those you don’t meet, make sure you are able to speak to how you would come up the learning curve or gain that credential.

THE DESIRED ATTRIBUTES

Sometimes these will be bundled with the qualifications but they are soft skills vs concrete degrees and proficiencies. A requirement may be “2 years of previous marketing experience” but a desired attribute may be “must be a self starter”.

These are subjective and you will be taken at your word regarding whether you have them or not.  That means you absolutely must be able to give examples of times when you exhibited those attributes .Thinking about this ahead of time should enable you to come up with some good ones.

Being able to analyze a job description is going to come in handy when you are trying to explain why you are suitable for the job. The job description is really a “TOOL” that you can use to your advantage but is commonly skipped or overlooked. If used properly, it will give you a hude advantage in your interview process.