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Is it Okay to Disagree in a Job Interview With a Recruiter?

..Disagree in a job interview backed by evidence

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..Disagree in a job interview backed by evidence

Photo credit: Darlene

Kamau was seated face to face with this calm-looking panel of three interviewers. His thoughts were wrestling hard because he didn’t know how to respectfully disagree in a job interview. The 30-year-old could feel beads of sweat trickling down his socks. Because this was the first time he ever had to air his difference of opinion in an interview.

This was a high stake job. He was one of the only two interviewees who successfully aced the challenging four interviews in eight months. The fifth one was the final one that would break the tie and decide the candidate who would be picked for the job.

As a Content Management System (CMS) specialist, he had worked with different CMSs like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Wix, and others. In all his years of experience, he had never met any CMS which was as fast and efficient as RebelMouse. Though pricey, it delivered the fastest results.

Therefore, when Rick, one of the interviewers suggested that WordPress was the fastest CMS because of its vastness and popularity, Kamau wanted to disagree. But there was this crippling fear that if he disagreed they would disqualify him.

Many candidates have also found themselves in that quagmire where they were wondering whether to disagree in that job interview or simply agree albeit reluctantly.

In this article, we will delve into knowing whether it’s okay to disagree in a job interview with an interviewer. At the same time, we’ll also investigate how to go about it the right way if you choose to register your difference in opinion.

Essence of interviews

One of the most successful political leaders is undeniably Lee Kuan Yew who lifted Singapore from a mere city to an economic powerhouse. It is said that one of the things he was particularly sensitive about is the people who worked around him.

Different historians say that he eliminated any “Yes” men around him. He wanted honest people who would give him great advice and constructively criticize some of his ideas.

The essence of any interview is to stand out and impress the interviewer. A winning candidate usually has a “kick” which usually makes them conspicuous among other equally qualified candidates.

According to Vicky Mackeever, a columnist at CNBC, if you agree with everything the interviewer says including inaccurate facts could bring you problems later on if you land the job. Sometimes the interviewer is testing the quality of your expertise to see if you can steer the company in the right direction by making the right calls.

It’s a tricky ground to tread but experts say that you should be yourself in an interview.

Disagree in a job interview backed by evidence

When you choose to spar respectfully with a recruiter, you need to make sure that it’s backed by facts and undeniable evidence. Remember, both you and the recruiter are seated across from each other on that table because there is something you need from each other.

You, as a candidate, are looking for a job to grow your career. The hiring manager on the other hand is looking for skill, talent, expertise to fill that vacancy that you have. Therefore, it won’t harm you to put your experience and knowledge to good use by educating the panel on what you think works or fails.

When you get a job based on your skill, expertise, and most importantly your personality, it will be so easy to communicate with your team members and superiors. However, if you get the job based on an identity of being agreeable to everything you’re told, it will be hard to communicate.

Thomas Hills, a professor at the University of Warwick’s department of psychology told CNBC that if you get into a job where you can’t communicate freely with the people you’re dealing with in principle, you’ll feel oppressed. Ultimately you’ll resent that job.

The point of decision

However, before you decide to go ahead with your friendly opposition, you need to measure if it’s worth disagreeing in a job interview. Some things are not worth disagreeing about and you can let them pass.

For example,

The most important question you should be asking yourself at that moment is, how much does this particular point mean to me and my job that I can or can’t let it go?

How to disagree in a job interview tactfully

As a communication practitioner, I have learned that you don’t have to disagree rigidly. You can approach it as a friendly conversation that encourages a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and information.

For example, “I do agree that WordPress has been present for years and powers 40% of the internet. It’s easy to use, affordable, and frankly gives you more options. But in my experience, I have realized that the user’s patience margin with time is dwindling. And to keep them coming back to your site, RebelMouse gives them the speed and amazing user experience that will attract them like a magnet. Though pricey, it brings more revenue than the costs it gobbles up.”

McKeever encourages interviewees to do enough research about the company. With that, they can give wholesome advice even as they couple it with their professional experience.

As you do this you need to read the room. Be alert to the kind of response that you will receive. If the interviewers receive your comments well, it means that they are malleable to change. However, if they don’t welcome your alternative views, they’re not open-minded. Therefore, you need to cut your cloth according to your cloak.

Another polite way of going about it is asking for permission to disagree. For example, “I have an alternative viewpoint about this. May I share my different perspective?”

When asked a question, don’t be too hasty to respond. This is a communication discipline that works all the time. Take your time to reflect on the question and vet your answer before you release it. You may have an answer at your fingertips but the way you present it will determine how the audience will receive it.

For example, rather than flat-out saying I disagree, you can say, “this is what I think” or “in my opinion”.


It’s no doubt that a candidate who is not afraid of disagreeing with interviewers comes off as curious and possesses the ability to be collaborative. Caroline Stokes advises on the Havard Business Review that you should present your real self during the interview and not who your employer wants to be.

Being an agreeable sycophant will ultimately have long-term effects such as wrong assumptions in your new position.

Written by

Wahome Ngatia

Peter Wahome Ngatia is an all rounded Marketing Specialist who deals in Graphic Design, Social Media, SEO and Content Writing. My passion is to use my skills and knowledge to help African businesses grow and thrive so that we can create employment for the youth. I also want to churn helpful content that inspires millennials to go hard after their dreams. Mantra: You learn more from failure than success.

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