Smarty Pants: What to do When You Know More Than the Hiring Manager

Career Blog

It’s been said that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. But what if it’s an interview and you really want or…gulp, need the role?

Let’s face it, for all the talk about hiring your replacement and looking out for the good of the company, in the real world, people put themselves first. If the hiring manager sees you as a potential threat, you’re sunk. The following strategies will help you mitigate his/her concerns:

  1. Make the interview about them: Instead of simply sharing accomplishments, add color about how your work helped your former team, manager and company.
  2. Play consultant: Ask questions that uncover what the manager’s current and long-term needs are and how you can best contribute.
  3. Realize you actually DON’T know everything:Ask the manager’s advice on company culture and hot spots to avoid. This establishes a coaching relationship that can develop once you’re in the role.
  4. Openly diffuse the issue: Many technical specialists are just that, specialists with no grand designs on a managerial role. I’ve managed and counted on brilliant people in a variety of functions in Human Resources who knew more about a specific a subject e.g. European employment law or 401(k) practices than I could ever dream. It was never an issue because we all knew and respected what we brought to the project/department.

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Be sure to check out my new book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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