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I recently had a preliminary interview for a software position in order to find out where I might fit in a company. I performed far below my usual standard in this interview. Following the interview I was asked to come in for a second round to interviews for an entry level position at the company. I'm currently working in a senior position at another job with an offer to continue working there managing a team. I feel as though I'm past the "entry level" stage in my career, but didn't adequately demonstrate or communicate this in the preliminary interview. I'd be very happy to continue at my current job, but I'd hate to miss out on at opportunity at the new company.

It's worth noting that the recruiting company delivered an out of date résumé (2 years old) to the interviewer. I realized what had happened at the end of the meeting and gave him a new copy I had with me.

Should I suck it up and resign myself to the fact that I blew this opportunity, try and explain that I feel I'm above an entry level position or go and perform well at the interviews for the position I've been offered and try and negotiate for a higher position?

Are there any ways of communicating that I feel I should have done better in the interview? The only thing I can think of is to send some references to evidence my claim.

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    The preliminary interview was to determine what position I would interview for at the second stage. So I performed not so badly that they rejected me, but not well enough to be offered a chance at a senior position. – Eve Richards Sep 11 '15 at 14:22
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    Also note that if you've never managed a team before, then you may want to accept the offer your company gave you (assuming it's competitive) and postpone your job search for a while. It's much, much easier to be hired in similar management positions once you've already proven that you can effectively manage a team. – Lilienthal Sep 11 '15 at 14:37
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    That's a rather important piece of information to leave out of your question since it's a valid argument for contacting the company again to explain, which may make them give you another shot. And prejudice isn't the right term here but it's very likely that you were immediately identified as entry-level if you only have a few years experience. – Lilienthal Sep 11 '15 at 14:51
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    That's what hiring managers would normally think, but given the resume screw-up you have a valid reason to ask if you could be reconsidered for a higher-level position. They might very well still say no but it's both more honest and more useful than trying to accomplish the same thing by going to the second interview. That they're calling you in indicates that you are probably a good cultural fit so it's worth checking if they just didn't realise that you may have the experience they're looking for. Remember to edit the resume fiasco into your question by the way. – Lilienthal Sep 11 '15 at 15:02
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    That experience teaches you to always hand the interviewer a copy of your resume at the start of the interview, even when they claim to have "already seen it". – Masked Man Sep 11 '15 at 15:03
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Unless this is somewhere where you really want to work or are desperate to leave your current position I'd simply cut your losses and move on.

It's perfectly OK to decline the second interview explaining that you weren't looking for an entry level position. It would be OK to mention that you felt you underperformed at the first interview but don't make a big thing of it.

If you do want to work there then go to the second interview but bear in mind you'll have to make an extremely good impression for them to change their minds about where you'd fit in their organisation.

At the end of the day, unless they offer you a position that's more commensurate with your current job there's little point in moving. They are unlikely to promote you quickly to a higher level.

It might be worth applying again in 6 months or a year's time, or to a different division, but many firms have rules about not accepting applications from people they've previously turned down.

  • Thanks. It seems as though I've nothing to lose by going to the second interview and trying again. If I got an email from a candidate claiming that they underperformed without any evidence to back that up I'd certainly take it with a grain of salt. – Eve Richards Sep 11 '15 at 14:28
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Chris provided a good answer for what to do with the company. I'd suggest also to take a look at yourself. You say you're in a senior level at your present company and did so poorly that the other company wants to interview you for an entry-level position! That is quite a dissonance.

Depending on the companies involved, that may be two or more steps down (entry->junior->no prefix->senior)! There is "I did bad" and then there is this. I'd reckon you have at least five years down on your resume if you're senior yet they see that and say "entry".

Perhaps you need to re-evaluate your skills; perhaps your skills were once hot and have cooled over the years. A senior, even on a bad day with a cold and missed breakfast, should not be able to perform so bad that "entry-level" is an option that the interviewer considers.

  • ah, the terminology I'm used to is Entry-Level = Junior < Senior < Management. On the topic of résumés, the interviewer had a copy which was 2 years out of date (the recruiting company messed that up!). I furnished him with a new one at the end of the meeting when I realised what had happened. I hope this didn't prejudice him against me :/ – Eve Richards Sep 11 '15 at 14:45
  • @EveRichards, way too many companies today promote to senior when the person is really still a junior or an intermediate dev. If the company needs real seniors, they want you to demonstrate the depth of knowledge in an interview. I don't think it is the resume that got you labeled as junior, you saidyou didn't do well at the interview. I think you look at what being senior really is and whether you actually have the in depth knowledge it requires. Read this:programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/14914/… – HLGEM Sep 11 '15 at 19:06
  • I'd sincerely and honestly be surprised if they don't have a different list than what you're used to. Yours is amazingly short at only two items; "Software Management" and "software position" (developer?) are two very, very different tracks with drastically different skill sets. It could really be, as @HLGEM mentions, that you think you should be called a "senior" when to that company you're in their Junior/Associate/Entry bracket. Even with the corrected resume. – Lan Sep 12 '15 at 2:15

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