It's OK to disagree with the interviewer — but here is how to do so correctly.
There are many facets to prepping for a job interview, from researching the organization and choosing the perfect interview outfit to completing a mock interview and creating a list of questions to ask the interviewer(s).
What many fail to prepare for is the moment when you might feel your heart begin to beat just a little bit faster or you unconsciously furrow your brow because you don't agree with what the interviewer is saying. How are you supposed to respond?
Should you openly disagree with the interviewer?
It can be easy to move along in an interview and simply nod and smile in an effort to appear agreeable — and that is fine if you genuinely agree with what the interviewer is sharing.
However, if you do not agree or have a different perspective on a topic, merely nodding and appearing as if you agree is a form of dishonesty; if hired, it could lead to confusion and misunderstandings in the future. Your credibility could also be questioned depending on the significance of the topic you “agreed” with during the interview.
It's also essential for you to be yourself in an interview. You want the organization to get to know you for who you are, especially since culture fit is a significant indicator of overall job satisfaction. By sharing your different perspectives, you will also learn how open and receptive the interviewer is to change and doing things differently.
If the interviewer shuts you down, there is a good chance the organization, as a whole, isn't open to new ideas or perspectives.
How do you disagree in a job interview?
When done with respect, positivity, tact, and humility, disagreeing in a job interview can lead to engaging and thought-provoking conversations. It also presents you with an opportunity to highlight your skills and expertise in a connected and grounded way. Read on for the best practices to consider before you share your alternative perspectives.
Tip: These insights are focused on job-related interview content. If politics or any other touchy subject comes up, it's best to avoid the topic tactfully. Read tips on how to do so here.
Ask before proceeding
In most instances, disagreements are about a difference in opinion and not about right or wrong. When you flat out say, “I disagree,” it can come across like you think the other party is wrong. A better approach is to say something like:
“That's interesting. I see where you're coming from, but I also see things a bit differently. Do you mind if I share my perspective?”
This type of response validates the other person while respectfully asking if they are open to hearing your perspective, giving them a choice to engage in a dynamic and healthy conversation without making their perspective wrong or yours right.
Think before you share
It's best to give yourself a moment to pause and gather your thoughts instead of instantly reacting to and disagreeing with someone else. You want to be able to back up your perspective with facts because a well-thought-out and articulated response showcases your critical thinking and ability to handle things professionally.
Be open to shifting perspectives
As you share your perspective, be open to some back and forth with the interviewer. You might come to agree with the interviewer, or you might both come to a middle ground with beneficial solutions to a problem (bonus points for you!).
Choose your battles wisely
If you're considering disagreeing with the interviewer, check-in with yourself and ask if it's worth it. Is the point you'd like to make relevant to the organization or position for which you're interviewing? If it's not, reserve your energy for aspects of the interview related to the job and organization.
Agree to disagree
The moment the interview turns into a heated debate, take a breath and agree to disagree. The last thing you want is tension to build with a potential employer. With that said, if it's the interviewer that won't let it go, you can professionally say, “It seems this is a topic on which we can agree to disagree.”
There might be moments when your intuition tells you it's best not to disagree, and that's OK too. However, if those moments occur, you should also ask yourself if you want to work for an organization where you don't feel comfortable sharing your perspective and opinions.
Otherwise, do your thing and be yourself during your interview. And when you're inclined to disagree, use the above best practices to do so in a way that improves your chances of landing the job.
Not feeling confident in your interview skills? Our coaches are here to boost you up.