Big Shoes to Fill…
You are being interviewed for a new position. Several times during the interview, the hiring manager comments about the person who previously had the role. They share with you what a great job they did and mention that you will have:
Big Shoes to Fill
How do you respond? What are your options? Do you offer a verbal dissertation of your skills and abilities outlining examples of your achievements, or simply say “I see John/Jane Doe was a valued employee and hope to bring equally valuable skills and knowledge to the position”.
In this case, the loss of Joe/Jane might not be fully accepted yet, and attempting to make you appear equally valuable may just be a dead end. Remember, they many have shared many life events with Joe/Jane such as job success, projects, promotions, transfers, sporting events, picnics, holidays, a marriage and/or birth of a child, event the death of parent. There could be a long history and even a family relationship you do not know about.
If the hiring manager and team were close, and in this circumstance appears to be so, then you might want to slant the focus toward Joe/Jane and away from yourself.
One thing you can do is come to their side of the table. Share your admiration for John/Jane and how their experience was admirable. You are in some ways competing with a “ghost” who is only there in spirit now, but a very powerful spirit.
Once hired, initially you will be compared to the spirit of John/Jane Doe, but over time you too will build your own history with the manager and the team. It does take time. Go slow, and under no circumstances should you criticize the person or their work. Doing so would make you look like a villain.
Instead, be patient, kind and do a great job, and your reputation will stand on its own!
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