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In a few days I am due to attend an interview for a management position which is a step up in my responsibilities but considered well within my capabilities by my current leadership team.

One half of the interview team is a Senior Manager whom I have an excellent relationship with and the other half was due to be another Senior Manager whom I had never met. Due to a location change the unnamed Senior Manager has been replaced with a Technical IT Manager with considerably more experience than I have in the advertised role.

My concern is that the Technical Manager and I went head to head with alternative policy papers in our workplace and despite being junior in experience my policy was picked and implemented by senior management and stakeholders.

I am now worried that he will attempt to pull out my lack of experience in the interview as a rebuttal to our professional disagreement.

Are there any concrete techniques I can use to steady my nerves and my answers during the interview?

The role is Agile Manager (my first). He is an alumni of Nokia, Apple and Reuters as an Agile Technical Lead and currently serves as the Agile Project Manager for the company's most prestigious project.

  • When you said "professionally quarreled" I assumed you were in a wrestling match with them. What you have described is not a quarrel (an argument). – Burhan Khalid Oct 12 '14 at 7:18
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    @BurhanKhalid I think you would do well to review the definition of quarrel before trying your hand at sarcasm. It was a quarrel whereby very strong dissenting opinions were expressed over the nature of corporate agile governance. – Venture2099 Oct 12 '14 at 14:47
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You went head to head with him the first time and won. What's intimidating you this time?

"I am worried that he will pull out my lack of experience as a a rebuttal for our professional disagreement"

  • You did not seem to worry about that the first time around and it's too late to worry about it now.

  • He didn't pull the lack of experience argument the first time around because it was an irrelevant argument then, and he would have looked somewhere between ridiculous and pathetic for arguing on any other grounds than technical and business grounds. He lost, but so far as I am concerned, he lost honorably. OK, he lost to someone with less experience. So what? Stuff happens and wisdom comes out of the mouth of babes. It happens to the best of us - yesterday, it was him. Today, it's me. Tomorrow, you'll get your turn.

  • Since when is lack of experience supposed to be a rebuttal for a professional disagreement? Who made up this rule - you? Disagreements based on technical and business grounds get resolved on technical and business grounds. Lack of experience has an impact if it hinders you from making an effective argument on technical and business grounds - that's not what happened last time. Because your argument carried the day.

Lack of experience is partially why people say things that are stupid and don't make sense and they don't even realize it. Again, that's not what happened to you last time. The stronger, sounder argument won and it just happened to be yours. Now, you're sweating all over yourself and feeling guilty :)

Do you know him as a petty minded, spiteful, vindictive individual who takes everything personally, or are you just conjuring up your own nightmares?

  • I have been out argued a number of times by people who were junior to me, but they hardly see me as a fool. One of my strengths is that I recognize a good point when I see one and my ego is not tied to everything I do including losing. I have lost arguments for the right reasons and I have lost them for the wrong reasons. He lost for the right reasons. So far as I am concerned, he did his best, you did your best and your firm is now better off from the fact that the argument took place.

  • I suggest that if you're feeling intimidated, you're getting anxiety attacks and you feel like voiding into your pants, now is a good time to do it - voiding into your pants, that is. Because on interview day, you are not wasting your time worrying about those things you can do nothing about, you are going gangbusters, you mean business and you are all business - Although I have to admit that I found that worrying is an enjoyable activity, and a fine excuse for not doing anything but worry :) You've got yourself in your corner, and that's a lot more than most people have.

And when you see him at the interview, make it a point to treat him with the respect that he deserves. Without kissing up to him, of course. He lost to you, but he is most probably a hell of a professional and you could learn a lot from him and he might be a very good one to have on your side.

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    You were right. And I got it. He has offered to mentor me for whatever I needed. :-) – Venture2099 Oct 13 '14 at 19:59
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    @Venture2099 I have a feeling that you'll be a top notch professional in the future and that future is not far off :) You'll remember this episode, you'll remember your fear back then, and you'll laugh so hard at yourself that tears will come to your eyes :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 13 '14 at 20:14
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    @Venture2099 I keep telling myself "I doubted myself. It was dumb of me and I was wrong - I'll never make that mistake again" And guess what? Time passes, and I make that mistake again :) Don't make my mistake :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 13 '14 at 20:25
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Congratulations on your upcoming interview! "Something" that you have done has earned you the opportunity to answer additional questions. The "something" thus far has been your experience (resume') and or perhaps your reputation of work within your current position.

Everyone is entitled to stretch into a position. Historically, you have demonstrated recognized skill (developed policy, policy accepted by management and stockholders). Professionalism in your behavior as well as by the IT Manager is really what needs to show up for the interview.

Your request for concrete techniques to steady your nerves during the interview can be addressed by any of the following:

  1. Breathe-simple and obvious, however, breathing in and out through your nose is the key. Physiologically, it is what tells your brain that everything is ok, even if it isn't.

  2. Review the job responsibilities prior to the interview. How have you demonstrated the needed skills in your present or previous positions? In it works for you, write it out. Why? By forming the answers with events and writing, you are practicing how you would say it in the interview.

  3. Sit/stand up straight. Ok, more than that...practice confident body posturing. Simply put, smile (easily), make and hold eye contact, take up space (important people have a bigger space bubble). Practice some psychology...respectful mimicry or mirroring gestures and postures (as appropriate).

  4. Wear your power. What gives you confidence every time you wear it? For some individuals, it is what is worn under, it could be your favorite shirt (if appropriate), power tie, pocket talisman.

  5. Evaluate your weaknesses. Nervous gestures? Growth areas? Is there anything that you might do that could be distracting or off-putting? Address it, if you have an answer for it ahead of time and are asked the question in the interview, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to self monitor and assess areas for development.

Go forth and good luck!

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