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The Gorilla – Ego In The Interview

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 15, 2013 in Executive Coaching, Interviewing Skills, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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Conflicts among gorillas are most often resolved by ritualistic displays intended to intimidate without becoming physical. These displays can include chest beating, ground stomping, and other showings of strength.

Gorilla-like behavior can surface under a wide variety of circumstances in the workplace. Perceived “threats” such as:
• authority being taken away
• new policies and procedures
• company reorganization

can cause the “gorilla” to emerge by making individuals feel self-doubt or under appreciated. Skill sets might be stretched into previously un-treaded territories, new responsibilities can trigger inner feelings of self-doubt, or the person isn’t feeling as challenged in a new role which they feel is beneath their abilities.

Consider this interview scenario; a management level person is participating in interviews where the new employee will become their peer. How will they view the interviewees if they are experiencing self-doubt about themselves and their own work?

It’s important to know as much about whom you are interviewing with and how your level of experience compares with them so you might be able to spot areas that would cause the interviewer to pound their chest and try to intimidate you. If you find yourself in this Gorilla’s cage, seek common ground where you can show how you will be a supportive experienced member of their team working towards a common goal.

But don’t be afraid to pound your chest a little in the interview. For example, I recently had a conversation with someone who had performed 4 general ledger systems conversions in his career and they were interviewing for a job that required that type of experience. Having successfully completed this work “only” 4 times before had left this person feeling that there were other, more qualified consultants in the world who perhaps had far more experience. The truth of the matter was, that in the interview setting they were the expert in the room because no one in that company had ever completed more than one system conversion. So, while you might suspect you aren’t the “most” experienced at something, it doesn’t mean you aren’t the most experienced person at that moment and, therefore, the immediate subject matter expert in the eyes of the hiring manager.

Be proud of your accomplishments and achievements. Prepare for every interview by researching the individuals you will be interviewing for and do a personal inventory of what you have made, saved, or achieved in the past and how your accomplishments will benefit your potential new employer in the future.

Have a bit of the gorilla’s confidence while steering clear of threatening territory!

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