Interview Question: Would You Work for Someone Who Knows Less?
Knowledge itself is subjective depending on its application and efficacy. In a professional setting, knowledge is often determined by educational attainment and level of job experience. That is why entry-level roles are reserved for new inexperienced workers and promotions are often based on level of education as well as years of experience. So people naturally expect to have superiors with more knowledge and experience than them. This hierarchical presumption of knowledge or qualification is also being transferred to employers or business owners.
What if your boss knows less? Most times, bosses only provide leadership and coordination by creating an enabling working environment and the right personnel for each post; Deep (professional) knowledge of the firm’s operation will hardly be required in this situation. More so, employers rely mainly on employees’ productivity and professionalism for their firm’s growth, so the focus is always assembling the best team. A vastly knowledgeable and experience employer would no doubt be valuable to both the firm and its workers.
The disparity in knowledge levels should not be a reason not to want to work with a certain employer or organization. What matters is that everyone performs their roles accordingly. The employer should provide the needed tools for work. On the other hand, employers should be committed and professional. Hence, the firm’s and individual employee’s growth depends on the efficacy of both the employer’s and team members’ inputs.
Why do interviewers ask this question?
Interviewers often ask about working for less knowledgeable people to find out if a prospective employee will be submissive or resistant to authority. It is an efficient approach to finding out how older job seekers will respond to younger superiors. Similarly, this question is also aimed at getting an idea of how you perceive yourself. The interviewer wants to see if you are self-deprecating, egoistic, or forthright. The response will depict how you view yourself and how it affects your relationship with others. This will, in turn, give the interviewer a glimpse of how much of a team player you are
People tend to profile themselves and are only willing to take instructions or be corrected by someone of higher knowledge status, which could be inconsequential to workplace output. Sadly, it could have an adverse on work processes and flow if a ‘wrong’ personality is involved. Therefore, employers equally consider character along with knowledge and experience in the recruitment process.
Points to Emphasize
- There are different kinds of knowledge: show the interviewer that there is always something to learn from a superior or co-worker. While some will possess a good academic pedigree, others are good at taking instructions and applying them even better. Good leadership skills will be insignificant if team members lack the capacity to process and apply the leader’s vision. Therefore regardless of your superior’s level of knowledge, they will have a lot for you to learn from.
- You will be focused on your role: let them know you prioritize doing a good job, by finding ways to provide added value to your work product. Also, draw the interviewer’s attention to how you will cultivate friendly relations with your boss and coworkers while performing your responsibilities.
- It is unlikely for someone up there to be less knowledgeable: let the interviewer know that you believe someone in a supervisory role should be very knowledgeable. Even though on paper he may be less, allude to the fact that by the role he occupies, he has a lot to offer. This is just you being modest and humble; They are qualities recruitment managers look out for during interviews.
- Teamwork and workplace interdependence: the growth and success of the organization depend on how well each team member plays their role. Emphasize to the interviewer that you intend on giving your best and hope everyone else does the same. Secondly, let them know that you look forward to learning from your boss and coworkers while expecting them to also learn from some positive traits you possess.
What not to avoid
Behavioral questions of kind are capable of taking you off balance when not prepared. Regardless of how it comes, try to be positive by avoiding the following mistakes.
- Do not agree that your boss is less than you: as endearing as it may sound, don’t subscribe to the idea that you are more knowledgeable than your prospective boss. Remember you are there to secure a job and not to compete over intelligence or knowledge.
- Do not indulge your humility: avoid implying that you are humble enough to allow someone who knows less than you to manage you. Instead, allude to the fact that your likely superior is qualified and deserving of his role. You can also highlight your ability to work under little or no supervision.
- Don’t stick to any arbitrary measure of knowledge: aligning yourself to measures of knowledge as test scores, academic attainment, awards or even job experience might be counterproductive. One might be successful in one and lagging in the other. Try emphasizing the complementary aspect of knowledge and character instead.
- Let it not be an opportunity to try to demonstrate your knowledge level: in as much as an interview offers an opportunity to impress a prospective employer, self-aggrandizement could end up doing otherwise. Accepting and talking overly about your ‘superior knowledge’ might appear boastful. This can in turn diminish your chances of securing the role.
Your response to this question can be in these forms:
“At the end of the day, the overall success of the firm is the goal; I am duty-bound as a member of this firm to give my best. Whether my supervisor or employer is more or less knowledgeable than me, that is clearly beyond the point of the expectation that I need to perform my role effectively. Hard work and consistency always pay off, and keeping this mind frame will one day place me at a top position, that I could have otherwise been envious of. After all, what makes a good leader out of a poor follower?”
“I believe that there are different types of knowledge. For instance, someone can be book smart and another can be people smart. I think the best kind of boss/worker relationship is one where both people balance each other out and where they both feel that they have things they can learn from each other”
When dealing with the question about working for someone less knowledgeable than you. It is important to focus on the positive aspects of working with others who have different skills and knowledge. Emphasize that you know people that have gained expertise from different knowledge bases, and answer the question in terms of your willingness to learn and grow in any environment.