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Don’t Be a Job Interview Know-It-All

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Douchy Businessman

When Impressing Becomes Distressing

Let me introduce you to Noah Tawl. He seems to have everything you’d want in a new hire. He’s young, ambitious and eminently qualified in terms of both education and experience.

But poor Noah has one problem – he’s too arrogant for his own good, walking proof that a job candidate can indeed be TOO confident.

There’s a big difference between showing your smarts and showing off. Noah Tawl turns off potential employers by bragging about himself, criticizing everybody else, openly disagreeing with and correcting the interviewer, and generally acting like a pompous jerk. Is this the kind of guy you’d want to work with every day?

A Portrait of the Know-It-All As a Young Man

Noah wasn’t always so brash. He was humble, even self-effacing in his early job hunting forays, but as he advanced in his career, his healthy confidence tilted toward arrogance and conceit.

After successfully climbing the corporate ladder for the last several years, Noah was blindsided by a recent reorganization and mass layoffs at his firm. Now he’s looking for a new job for the first time in years.

With his impressive resume, Noah gets plenty of calls for first interviews, but no job offers. Why isn’t he able to close the deal? See if you can figure it out from these classic Noah-isms delivered in recent interviews:

—“Have you ever thought of changing your logo? It looks like a rat wrestling with a spider…”

—“Your reliance on direct mailing is definitely ill-conceived. I don’t know who committed you to that course of action, but…”

—“I’ll work around the clock if that’s what it takes to get the job done right. However, I do not suffer fools lightly and if you’re not on the same page with me, don’t expect me to back down without a fight…”

—“A time when my actions translated into big bucks for my employer? I could bore you with numerous examples, but I’d say me just being there, as a filter for the incompetence that abounded there, was priceless…”

—“I know you’ve been in the grommet business for 100 years, but you need someone like me to usher you into the 21st Century…”

Arrogance Can Backfire On a Job Interview

What could be wrong with these idiots who can’t see the genius of hiring Noah Tawl?

There is no mystery here, because Noah Tawl has simply been living up to his name. He assumes he is impressing when he is actually distressing. Despite his expertise and impressive background, people just don’t want to work with Noah.

Some interviewers think he’s obnoxious, confrontational, or full of hot air. They worry he has an attitude problem, that he wouldn’t be a good team player.

In other cases, hiring managers view Noah as a threat to their own career aspirations. They don’t want an aggressive upstart, they want someone to help them look good. That may not be entirely fair, but it happens all the time.

Remember, in a job interview, it’s never a good idea to make your interviewer feel stupid, defensive, or annoyed. You want to make a connection, establish rapport, leave a positive impression.

An interview is not a competition to see who’s smartest, it’s an opportunity to show who you are and how you can benefit the organization.

Don’t be a Noah Tawl, and, most importantly, don’t come across as knowing more than the people you want to work with. Even if you do.

Written by

Wes Skillings

Wes Skillings has been writing and editing the words of others for his entire professional life. As an editor, reporter and columnist for Pennsylvania newspapers with a long career, he wrote human-interest stories for thousands of readers on a weekly basis. He is the founder of SkillUnlimited, a Pennsylvania-based copywriting firm. He is also the author of A Matter of Recovery: The Story of C.B. Miller.

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