The interviewers said you came on too strong in the job interview, now what?

The interviewers said you came on too strong in the job interview, now what?One benefit of working with a diverse base of clients is sometimes one client can be a resource for another.

For example, I spoke to one of my C-level female executive clients recently. I shared comments another female director-level candidate had received when interviewed by a team of 6. The comment was: The HR contact added “some on the team felt I came off too strong for the team as a whole.”

I told my executive client that my director-level client also voiced this concern: “I’m concerned that the ‘strong female in business’ is happening to me again and I’m not sure what to do.”

Is coming on too strong a problem for female job seekers?

My executive client said she behavior in a female candidate can be seen as strong and perceived negatively. Similar behavior in a male is an asset and makes the male even more valuable.

Women fought hard to be taken seriously in the work place. It can be easy to think projecting strength is a way to prove your worth. It might be, but it could very well have to do with the way you communicate.

How do you overcome that interview bias?

  • Assess your interview behavior and your attitude. Is your demeanor coming off as a know-it-all or condescending or perhaps arrogant? In male or female that won’t cut it in an interview but in a woman, it worse than if a man said the same thing.
  • Are you trying to hard? If you are trying to make the case you should be hired because you really need the job now, you may project more aggressive behavior than you think.
  • Are you deliberating projecting an “I can do it all” attitude. Unknowingly, you might be trying so hard to say you can do the job. You may be blasting your talents at the group. Reassess and rehearse your interview preparation to see what attitude you are projecting.

What if you get a no answer after the interview?

Even if you get that no answer because you came on too strong in the job interview, after the interview or even after the decision has been made, contact them and state your case again. Tell them why you feel you fit their culture and can do the job.

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  1. Anita Hauer on May 9, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Why should you change the essence of who you are for any job? So you dumb it down for the interview, get the job, and then have to suppress your personality everyday on the job? How impractical is that? If they couldn’t handle you as a take charge woman that you are, then move on to the next company that will appreciate that quality in you. The other choice is if you can live with supressing the real you for a job, pretend to be someone you’re not and live with the consequences.

    • Julie Walraven on May 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Interesting perspective, Anita. I agree you shouldn’t plan on changing your behavior just to get a job – unless your behavior really needs changing. We all know someone who comes off as arrogant, they might even admit it, but rarely is that a good attitude to have so at that point, I would assess if there could be changes in the attitude. On the flip side, there are people who really are so take charge that unless they are given free reign, they will be unhappy in any role that makes them stifle their natural gifts. I think that’s what makes a good entrepreneur. Some people are not made to be employees and others just will do better when they are not employees.

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Julie Walraven

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