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Career Tips

Interviewing: Can do the job, will do the job, fit for the job

by Brought to you by ACS Careers
January 18, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 2


An illustration of two people sitting across from each other at a table, at what appears to be an interview.
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock

Interviewing for a new position is a process that can take weeks—or even months. As a candidate, you will converse with a number of people, each probing different aspects of your qualifications and fit for the position. By putting yourself into the mindset of the hiring manager, you can provide the information they need to make an informed decision and increase your chances of being hired.

Can do the job. The hiring organization first wants to know if you can do the job. This evaluation starts when a hiring manager reviews your résumé, looking for evidence that you have the skills required for the position. They will evaluate your technical and soft skills, how much experience you have using them, and the relevance of your skills to the job’s needs. Make sure your résumé and online portfolio include specific examples of your accomplishments that showcase your strongest skills—and emphasize them during the interview. If possible, use the hiring organization’s terminology; you can pick this up from the job description, company website, and current or past employees of the organization.

Will do the job. Second, the hiring organization will look for evidence that you will do the job—that you want this particular job and that it’s not just a placeholder until something better comes along. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for the position and explain how this job relates to your career goals. If the position would mean a significant change in responsibilities, demonstrate that you have actively prepared for this change. For example, if you are looking to move from benchwork to management, present examples showing that you’ve managed others, either in your current job or in outside volunteer activities. Consider taking classes or obtaining certifications in skills that you have not had the opportunity to put into practice but are confident you will be able to do.

Fit for the job. The final requirement for the hiring organization is to ensure you are a good fit for the job, not only from the perspective of the hiring manager but also from that of the rest of the team. Fit is mainly about character, so don’t hesitate to show some of your personal side during the interview process in addition to presenting your experience, soft skills, and career goals. Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission, philosophy, and corporate culture and be sure to outline why you are a good fit for this particular position and organization.

The hiring manager wants staff members to clearly understand why the organization chose you for this position over other applicants—and, in some cases, over a current employee who might be expecting to be promoted. Hiring managers do not want to have to defend their decisions, and they certainly don’t want to make mistakes. If you are hired, the information you provide can also lay the groundwork for your success in the position and thus contribute to the organization’s success.

Identifying and obtaining a new job can be a long process involving many steps and a number of people. By knowing what the hiring manager and organization are looking for and providing the information they need clearly and concisely, you can help make their decision to hire you an easy one—which is also a win for you!

Get involved in the discussion. The ACS Career Tips column is published monthly in C&EN. Send your comments and ideas for topics for future columns to


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