How to avoid complacency in a job interview

Q: I’m going for a job in-house and all the indications are that I am the hot favourite. I have been number two to the current incumbent for the last four years. However, there are talented people elsewhere in the company who want to climb the ladder and they will make a huge effort to get the job. Also, I consider myself something of an underdog lover and I just hate being favourite. Any tips on how I can make sure?

A: I always advise my clients to go into the interview as if they are second or third favourite. They need to understand that they can get the job, but they have a bit of work to do to nail it down. And this is a particularly relevant piece of advice when you are the favourite.

Being favourite can promote complacency. It can allow us to believe that the job is already in the bag, and it can leave us out there as someone to be targeted by the opposition. If I were one of your rivals for this job, part of my subtle strategy would be to highlight skills I have that you don’t.

I would aim to plant seeds of doubt about you in the interviewers’ minds. I would do this in a very discreet and strategic manner. Don’t take it personally: all is fair in love and war.

Preparation is still the key

To ensure that being favourite does not prove your undoing, I repeat my almost weekly mantra here: ‘prepare, prepare, prepare’.

You know what this job needs. You can keep it going. But you need to approach the interview not in the spirit of just keeping it going, but with a clear idea of what you will do to make the job run even better.

What are the positive outcomes that will accrue if they appoint you? Will there be more sales, greater efficiency, new markets, a reduction in complaints? And how? Be extremely specific. Others will struggle to match the level of detail you can bring. Make ‘detail’ your friend.

When you say you will reduce the level of complaints, how exactly will you do that? Will you set up early warning systems? Will you provide better trouble shooting information for clients? Bring the game to a point of knowledge where nobody else can excel bar you.

Make them fully aware that you want this job, and you are putting in a big effort to get it. Show them that complacency is not part of your makeup. Knock them out with the level of enthusiasm and desire you bring. Tell them you are relishing the opportunity to step up.

Anticipate what they are wondering about. What didn’t go well under the last incumbent? You know that better than anybody. Put that to your advantage now without undermining your colleague. You don’t need to say that they were poor at administration: you just need to say you are good at administration and give examples.

Make a list of the things that may have frustrated the employers about your current boss. And persuade them of your strengths in any or all those areas.

It all comes back to preparation. Figure out the job and what exactly they’re hoping to get right this time. And go in there and use your natural advantage to good effect.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.


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