I am a software engineer with much experience. Sometimes during interview, I can finish answering all of the questions the interviewer asked me, and I am very confident I answered correctly. (I consider I answered it correctly because the question is very basic and common for my daily usage).

However, generally speaking, if interviewers are also technique guys, they would consider me as a threat.

Sometimes I tell myself act more friendly, smile, and answer questions after one second, and don't try answer everything, but during interview, I forget completely.

Would I seek your advice how to do?

Sorry that I think I also make you think I am "arrogant", but the point is, I sometimes also make the agents and interviewer (one time) tell me I need more confidence.

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    Sorry to be blunt, but if you are unsuccessful in interviews it is not because interviewers perceive you as a threat, but as arrogant. Your question certainly does sound arrogant to me, and if I'd sense this attitude in a candidate, it would be a red flag.
    – Helena
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 10:39
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    This question reminded me of this one: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/166480/125897 I would suggest you look at the question and the accepted answer, and see if any of it hits home. Now, this accepted answer is quite harsh in its tone (scathing, actually) in my opinion, so I point out that I'm not suggesting that it applies to you. Only, that regardless of the accusative tone, it may actually carry meaningful / useful pointers (especially considering that the asker had accepted it). So, if you find anything relevant there, you could update your question in the light of the new insights.
    – Levente
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 10:47
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    I don't know if this is a language issue or not, but there's a huge difference between "confidence" (generally a positive quality) and "threatening" (always a negative quality in a workplace situation). Commented May 8, 2021 at 11:46
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    However, generally speaking, if interviewers are also technique guy, they would consider I am a threat. - Why do you think that? Have they told you that?
    – joeqwerty
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 14:10
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    I've never heard of any company where people recommended not hiring someone because they felt the new person would be a threat to them from a technical/job perspective. People who are interviewing are generally more secure in their positions. The more likely scenario (imo) is that you weren't as good in the interview as you think. Commented May 9, 2021 at 0:01

3 Answers 3


There is a myth among a lot of smart people that they are held back precisely because they are so smart and so good at what they do; the decision makers are threatened by them and their skills, and don't want them to succeed. I see this in high school: "my teachers don't like me because I am smarter than them", for example. These people are smart, but not wise, and they're wrong.

As someone who was smarter than my teachers, who raised kids who were smarter than their teachers, who has been the smartest in the room too many times, keeps changing rooms, and still is often the smartest in the new room, let me tell you what they are reacting to that you perceive as "being a threat". It's not just that you're smarter than them. It's that, rightly or wrongly, you are sure you are smarter than them, and that the things you happen to know about are the only things that are relevant. If you've learned one way to do thing X, you are sure of the answer to "how do you X?" You don't know there are 4 other ways, or the circumstances under which the slower or more expensive way is actually better.

You know what you know, but you don't know what you don't know. Pretending to know less so as not to be "a threat" will not help. Becoming aware of what you don't know and thus phrasing your answers differently might help. So consider this.

How do you X?

I simply Y. I'm very good at it. I've done it a lot.

That's a pretty good answer. It's better than

I don't know, I never did that.

But how about:

In my experience so far, we've always Y. It's worked well and I'm good at it. I have heard some people A or B, and I would be interested in learning more about those.


Sometimes I Y, and sometimes I Z. I generally prefer Y because it's quicker [or more secure or easier to maintain.]

A little more self awareness. A little more acknowledgment that other people know things too. A little more acknowledgement that there's more than one way to do things, and sometimes you choose the quickest, sometimes the cheapest, sometimes the one that works out best in the long run. A little less knowing (instant answer) and a little more thinking (ask about factors that may be relevant but weren't in the question.)

This is hard work. But if you find your current attitude is causing a problem, I recommend that's what you do.

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    @WesleyLong “smarter than them” isn’t unequivocally wrong unless one ignores popular usage: books.google.com/ngrams/… I love debating these sorts of things, but apparently it drives a lot of other people nuts, so I’ll leave it at that :)
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 17:27
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    @WesleyLong Most prescriptive grammarians do. ;) I think fighting against the evolution of a living language as expressive as English is quixotic. Teach the rules, but avoid pedantry. There’s no difficulty understanding the meaning here, and using the colloquial is appropriate when giving advice. It would be counterproductive to be too formal.
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:41
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    @ColleenV is right, but more importantly I was quoting the people who tell me they are the smarter ones, and (perhaps ironically) that is the phrasing they use. An example of them not realizing what they don't know :-). I would never say "smarter than they" but I would say "smarter than they are". I certainly wouldn't put "smarter than they" in the mouth of someone who doesn't understand why their teachers are annoyed with them. Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:52
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    And now we're at the root of the problem. When you've been instructed in proper grammar, improper grammar sounds "low," yet when you speak properly, you can come across as "arrogant." It's a no-win situation. Of course, Puritans were upset when their kids shortened "God be with ye" to "Goodbye," so ... Commented May 11, 2021 at 16:28
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    @WesleyLong Well, I'm not going to start dropping f-bombs just because it's acceptable these days, a likewise you should not change the way you write because the world has decided we can just use "ur" for "yours, you're, your" and everyone should just guess from context what was meant :) I admire well-written/well-spoken English and do not perceive it as arrogant (unless it's intended to be - when I was young and foolish I'm ashamed to admit I would use that as a way to verbally beat people into submission.)
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 18:18

Interviews aren't competitions, they're there to see whether you're competent for the job and also to see if you fit in with the company. Just answering their technical questions isn't enough. You could for sure (like you mentioned) give somebody the idea that you're arrogant and perhaps unfriendly by not being social. I tell you for sure you're very unlikely to get any job if they perceive you as a bad fit. You can be the smartest guy but you're not getting a chance if they simply don't like your character.

I really advise to take a step back, be more humble, be more social. That's how you can score a job


Before you answer every technical question, take a somewhat-deep breath, pause briefly, then answer. Try to do this for an equal duration for all questions easy and hard. Normally, this advice is to obscure how much thought you need per question, but in your case, it adds a little vulnerability without taking away the quality of your answer.

You should try to find something competency-related to compliment your interviewer(s) on. You will be able to find something if you're observant.

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