Candidates with extensive experience and a strong skill set usually feel quite confident going into a job interview. Those who have worked in industries internationally, held leadership positions, or solved a wide range of problems for various companies certainly are impressive on paper. Really, who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that? But sometimes those credentials and years of experience can actually backfire, particularly when the person interviewing you believes you might one day be a threat to their position in the company. They might make your interview uncomfortable in an attempt to trip you up. So, what can you do to win over an insecure hiring manager during an interview?
Spot the Insecurity
First, learn how to identify when someone feels threatened by your accomplishments. Ask yourself these questions: Does the interviewer act unimpressed by the answers you provide to their questions, even though you have strong examples and can explain things clearly? Does the interviewer continuously interrupt you when you’re trying to speak? Is the interviewer using a tone that comes across as rude, condescending, or belittling? Is the interviewer being aggressive with their questioning techniques or making undermining comments about your resume or answers to their questions?
All of these things can signal someone who is possibly insecure about their own experience and skills, especially in comparison to yours. If you are applying for a position that will report directly to the interviewer, or that will work alongside them, this could be a good indication that they are concerned about how your credentials and experience will make them look. This can certainly put you in a tricky and possibly awkward situation, but there are some ways you can take things into your own hands and show the hiring manager that you are willing to create value to help the team be successful, rather than trying to replace them.
Assess Your Behaviour
Take a step back and look at whether there is anything you are doing that could be making the interviewer uncomfortable or defensive. Are you coming across as though you know more than the interviewer? Are you using language that is too strong? For example, claiming that you are an “expert” can be one way to make an interviewer uncomfortable. Is your tone condescending or bragging? Are you somehow taking over the interview by being pushy or too assertive? Have you made remarks about the company that could be seen as negative?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, try to tone things down and make the interviewer feel more relaxed. If you aren’t behaving in a way that might make the interviewer feel threatened, it’s likely they are dealing with personal insecurity. Either way, keep in mind that being respectful, polite, and courteous will go a long way in keeping the interview a positive experience.
Read: “3 Words You Should Never Use to Describe Yourself in a Finance Interview” to learn what language to avoid in an interview.
Know Your Stuff
Researching a company ahead of time, knowing your resume inside and out, and having clear responses to questions will leave you well prepared and ready to take on even the most difficult interviewer. Knowing what you plan to say can be useful if you are suddenly caught off-guard by questions, comments, or behaviours from the interviewer that you weren’t expecting. You will likely gain more respect from the interviewer when they realize that, if you are going to be reporting to them directly, you are interested in supporting them and aren’t easily shaken by their aggressive interviewing techniques.
If you’re able to find out a bit about your interviewer ahead of time, this can also be a useful strategy in making the interview more pleasant, as it can give you some conversation starters to allow the interviewer to speak about themselves and their role a bit. This can create a more positive interaction, briefly taking the focus off yourself and letting the interviewer know that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Read: “How to Stand Out in Your Next Accounting Interview” for more tips on making a positive impression.
Take the High Road
If the interviewer is continuing to be impolite or defensive, maintain a positive demeanour by smiling and staying engaged in the interview. If they respond negatively about something you say, try to rephrase it to see if that helps, while also being mindful to keep the tone from being argumentative or confrontational. Do not raise your voice, insult the interviewer, or act unprofessionally. Stick to the information you want to share about your experience and skill set, and keep your cool by avoiding any emotional responses to what the interviewer is saying or doing. By staying calm and collected, you might find that the interviewer will eventually come around and realize that how they’re presenting themselves isn’t very professional.
Sometimes all of the great things about your work experience and resume can make an insecure hiring manager act aggressive or defensive. Interrupting, acting unimpressed, or using belittling or demeaning language are all signs that an interviewer could be feeling insecure. If you assess your own behaviour and determine that there isn’t anything you’re doing to trigger this reaction in them, remember that it might just be that they have a problem with feeling threatened. Preparing in advance of the interview and knowing what you want to say will help you from feeling thrown off-track by any negative behaviour from the interviewer. Keep your cool during the interview, try to build a positive rapport with the hiring manager by framing your responses to show that you want to contribute to and support the hiring manager’s success, and leave them with the best impression possible.
Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.
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