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Seeking a higher position in an interview may backfire

Seeking a higher position in an interview may backfireImage Credit: Supplied

One mistake that many people make in job interviews is to position themselves too early for a higher position and title. Although this strategy can work if the position you're applying for is below your skills, it can backfire in many ways.

Being seen as overqualified is the first problem that can simply exclude you early in the process. But that is not everything. Your interviewers may also get the impression that you'd easily jump ship at the first sight of a better position somewhere else. Based on your tone, they may be threatened that you're eying someone else's position — this person could be on the hiring panel. And finally, if you're hired for the open position, you may be cut no slack since you've presented yourself as a super candidate.

So where should you draw the line in presenting yourself? You definitely don't want to sell yourself short. And you should position yourself as a candidate for growth and promotion within the company. But for now, you want to get this job you're interviewing for.

Here are few points that can help you adjust your message.

Explain your goals

Make a clear statement about why you want this particular job, and how you could apply your skills to it. If you're asked a direct question about whether this particular position meets your ambition, you can simply say something to the effect of why this job matches your interest and position you for growth — that is of course if you want to keep your advancement options open. Always add a conditional statement about how you understand the job and that, like in any other job, this one will probably come with a set of challenges and a learning curve.

If you're conscious of how the job falls well below your qualifications and you're taking it just to keep busy or to have a paycheck, you need to handle your honesty tactfully. Focus on your work interest definitely more than the money, also focus on how with all your experience, you can be a great asset for the company. Assure the interviewers that with your “been there, done that” attitude, you won't be a threat to their authority. In fact, you probably will be more relaxed since you're shooting for anyone's seat.

Stay modest

If you're well above the qualifications required for the job, your interviewers probably have noticed that, and you don't have to emphasise it every step of the way. Instead of focusing excessively on the past accomplishments, try to focus on the future and introduce yourself as a candidate how is interested in learning about the company, the position and how work is being done.

Avoid being a know-it-all who will revamp the workplace. Instead, highlight your relevant experience as much as it relates to the job. In addition, if you want to win this job, you must have a very good sense of others' reactions to you and your experience. For example, if you're supervisor a young person with just a couple of years of experience while you're a coming with decades of knowledge, expect some resistance there. That doesn't mean you're not getting the job for sure, but you may need to be extra careful with the comments you make and the tone you use.

Get your foot in the door

So whether your goal is to get this job or get it as a stepping stone to a better job, your immediate mission is to get the job. You won't be able to do so unless you check all the boxes. Your vast experience won't make up for a poor attitude, insufficient documents, or negative references. So, take the hiring process for what it is, and go through every step from application, to interviewing to additional interviewing, etc. Even when you feel like your experience should make up for some of the requirements, try to just provide what's needed. In many cases, employers are not willing to start with concessions or compromises. But the good news is that once they see your value, you probably will climb your way up to where you're a better fit and could eventually get some special treatment.

Are you the right fit?

• Match your skills with the job posted

• Offer relevant experience

• Don't be a threat to interviewers

• Go through the standard process

• R.O.

Find out how to make sure all the preparatory work pays off

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor