The Interview Coach: Know-It-Alls

November 28, 2012 |

Dear Carole,

I read your article Five Rules to Encourage Optimism and to Discourage Negativity. Your note about reading between the lines on a job announcement may be a bit misleading. When you go into a job interview and presume to know what the company really wants vs. what they put in print would seem to me to be pretty arrogant. I’ve tried that and have been cut short in the interview. Nobody likes someone to come into their house and tell them how you’re going to fix things for them when they didn’t ask you to.

I’m telling you this from an unemployed position. I’ve tried reading between the lines on my resumes and if it doesn’t hit the key words in the job description, the resume goes to the dust bin. When I answer with name, rank and service number, I get invited to an interview. In other words, stay in your own swim lane and things will be fine. Work on expanding your horizons and reading between the lines after you get hired.


Hi Ken,

Thanks for your comments – and I can see what you are getting at – being a “know-it-all” is not a good way to come across in an interview.

What I was talking about was trying to figure out what “they” are looking for in a candidate – what type of traits and skills would this person need to do the job.

When you read the job description the first time – you read for content — what is of interest to you? – and, do you qualify?

When you read it the second time you read it for words – vocabulary. Using some of their “lingo” is good.

When you read it the third time – read between the lines. What I mean by this is:  “What kinds of skills would you need to do this job?”

An example would be if the job required interacting with several departments – (HR, Accounting, Engineering, Maintenance). To do the job well, you would probably need good interpersonal and communication skills (people skills) to be able to deal with the different personality types involved.

I would then suggest you make sure that you include in your resume that you have excellent relationship building/people skills (if indeed you do).

I would also suggest having an example of a time when your interpersonal skills made a difference in a dealing with different or difficult people.

A good rule of thumb is “never say anything in an interview (or write anything on your resume) that you can’t back with an example or story.”

I hope that gives you a better picture of where I was coming from.

Best wishes on moving forward if you are seeking employment.


Carole Martin

[For more interview tips, visit the Veteran Jobs Career Advice section.]

About Ho Lin

Ho Lin is an editor at His interests include naval history, the New York football Giants, and loud rock music.