Don’t Be an Interview “Know-It-All”

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know-it-all shutterstock_104220077The best thing you can do in an interview is to keep the focus on how you can help the interviewer with their challenges. Yet even if you are keeping this focus, bringing a “know-it-all” attitude, with accompanying assumptions, can leave a bad impression. In particular, be careful of presuming that you know what the fix should be for a hiring manager’s problem without understanding the whole picture.

For example, say you go into an interview thinking that the company’s e-commerce website is terrible, and they need to revamp it to improve sales. You could say: “Your e-commerce platform has issues that are contributing to your sales decline, including not implementing x. I can help you to fix this…”

But this statement contains a lot of assumptions that might rub the hiring manager the wrong way. For example, maybe they tried “x” but it didn’t work for their situation. Or their analysis shows the sales decline comes from another source. Or perhaps a sensitive political situation is the reason that “x” can’t be implemented.

A much much better approach for you to take is: “I noticed you don’t do x on your e-commerce site, while your competitor does. Also, I led implementation of x in my prior company, which helped us to substantially increase sales. Have you thought about trying this yourself?

When I work with hiring managers on spotting candidate red flags, we include candidates who makes assumptions about the right course of action without stating those assumptions or understanding the context fully. Similarly, when a jobseeker-client thinks they know the answer to a hiring manager’s problems, I coach them to rephrase their “answer” as one or more questions that will give them the context they need while demonstrating their value and thoughtfulness.

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