Specialized certifications can give you a big leg up in the hiring process. You’ve probably already listed them on your resume, but a hiring manager is also likely to ask about your professional credentials during your interview, especially for technical jobs.
We’ll explain what interviewers are looking to hear when they ask candidates about certifications and share some tips to help you impress them with your answer.
Why do interviewers ask about certifications?
First and foremost, an interviewer wants to verify that you meet the necessary qualifications to hold the position. Some jobs require certain certifications by law, while others are determined by the company.
They also want to hear you describe your credentials in your own words, which can tell them a lot more about you as a candidate than they can learn by merely reading your resume. Your response will help a hiring manager gauge your level of knowledge and personal investment in the field.
What hiring managers look for in an answer
An interviewer wants to know that you have the proper foundation to be competent in the role. Having a set of professional credentials gives them confidence that you’ll be able to hit the ground running without extensive training on the basics.
Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are invested in keeping their skills current. Technical certifications are one way to demonstrate that you’ll help the company leverage the latest technology and stay abreast of new developments in the field.
Finally, asking about certifications is a way to identify candidates who are more qualified than the rest. If several candidates are comparable, but one holds advanced certifications that the others don’t, it may ultimately tip the scales on who gets hired.
How to answer
Name your certifications
In a technical interview, the interviewer may or may not be well-versed in the nuances of the job they’re hiring for. Ensure they understand your credentials by giving a brief description of each one. For example, ‘I’m a CISSP, which means I’m experienced in designing and managing a commercial cybersecurity program. I also have my CASP+, which means I’m certified in more advanced areas like risk analysis and cryptography.’
Describe how your certifications will help you in the role
Strengthen your position as a candidate by connecting each certification to its benefits for the company. This is especially important if you hold certifications that aren’t directly required for the role, like if you’ve completed a leadership training program or have achieved certified fluency in another language.
Share your future plans
Help an interviewer see your commitment to the field by talking about any plans you have to obtain additional credentials or any training that you’re in the process of completing.
How to answer the question “What certifications do you have?”
Give a bullet-point list
This question is a chance to sell your skills and help the interviewer see that you’re the best candidate for the job. Don’t waste it by merely listing off a laundry list of credentials, which sounds no different than if you were reading them off your resume.
By describing your credentials in your own words, you’ll help an interviewer feel confident that your technical skills are up to snuff. By tying those skills to how they’d help the company, you’ll demonstrate that you’re a smart hire who will make a meaningful contribution in the role.