The Why #84: Why do I feel under qualified for a job despite meeting 9 out of 10 requirements?

4 min readApr 18, 2024


By Dan Monheit 19th April

Question by Blair, Essendon

I don’t envy you Blair. Sure, I’m still in my first job but hunting for a new one sounds rough. I imagine it’s like pitching, except you’re all alone, wearing a bad suit and without the grossly insufficient (but still appreciated) ‘interview fee’ if you lose.

How dreadful it must feel to be scrolling through a job description that appears like it could possibly, probably, definitely be the one, only to be hit with the ‘experience in something you’ve never, ever done before’ requirement. Dreams dashed. Hope lost. On to the next one.

Well chin up Blair, because today’s your lucky day. I’m here with a dose of Behavioural Science backed advice that’ll have you applying for dozens of jobs you may or may not be qualified for by lunchtime.

Negativity Bias

Negativity Bias refers to our tendency to pay more attention to and give more weight to negative information and experiences than positive ones.

In 1998, Psychologist Tiffany Ito and her colleagues conducted a study to determine whether we have a heightened reaction towards negative stimuli. To do so they asked participants to look at 33 different photos while they monitored participants’ brain’s electrical activity.

The images ranged from neutral (a mug, a photo frame) to positive (people enjoying a picnic) to negative (someone holding a weapon). The findings showed that the most significant brain activity, known as Event-Related Brain Potentials (ERPs), occurred in response to the negative images.

Negativity Bias is the reason we remember the one piece of negative feedback in an otherwise glowing review, fixate on a bad comment from an internet troll despite a flurry of praise and love, or mull over that one line you missed in the play that received a standing ovation!

But back to you and your job hunt, Blair. You see you’re most likely extremely qualified for that ‘Senior Snake Milking’ role (yes, it’s real). Unfortunately we’re just hard-wired to notice the one thing that’s bad while we ignore everything else that’s good. I say, go get ‘em!

For Challenger Brands, consider leading with negative sounding messages, knowing that consumers are hard wired to notice them. The trick, however, is to quickly flip these negatives into positives that highlight your brand’s key promise. If it worked for Avis (We’re number two. So we try harder), Volkswagen (Lemon, Think Small) and Aldi (Good, Different) it might just work for you.

Behaviourally Yours,

Dan Monheit

PS If you missed the last edition, you can still check whys everyone swears they knew crypto would boom/rebound/crash/recover here.

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