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Is Anything Really Obvious?

The word “obvious” is a terrible word that can lead to a lot of misunderstanding and distrust. The reality is that there is nothing that is truly “obvious” to everyone. Just look at our political parties. What’s clearly obvious to a Democrat is definitely not obvious to a Republican.

One place where we can get caught in the “obvious” trap is in job interviews. When interviewing, thinking things are obvious can easily lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Don’t take anything for granted by thinking “obviously they know why I’m giving them this answer”.

This could be one of the reasons one might feel good coming out of an interview, but the outcome is a rejection letter or “ghosting” from the hiring manager.


The most successful interviews are comfortable, conversational and filled with great examples of the work experiences of one’s past. Many times, a great answer is given using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique or something similar. We often think that the person we’re speaking with knows exactly why we’re telling them what we’re telling them. But what is obvious to one is not obvious to another. It is unwise to assume that the interviewer will make the connection, in your story, that you want them to make. You need to tell them why you’re giving the example you’re giving.

When coaching my clients on interviewing, I add an “S” to the STAR acronym which stands for “So what?”. You need to tell the interviewer about the relevance and connection of your answer to the job at hand. For example, “The reason I’m giving you this example is because, in the role we’re discussing, you need someone who has experience with…” and let them know you’re that someone.

Don’t Assume Anything is Obvious

This is especially true for the over-40 job seeker. Consider the question, “Aren’t you over-qualified for this job?”. What is it the interviewer is looking for? Any one of the following might be true. “Obviously they’re concerned about my salary requirements… they think I’ll get bored…they think I will be a threat to their job”. Clarify to make sure you’re answering the right question.

When you are searching for a job, it is important to not leave things to chance. If you think something is obvious to the listener and their obvious is not the same as yours, then your intended message is not getting through in the way you want it to; and winning that job will be unlikely. Instead, first clarify the question if necessary. Then, clearly describe and connect how your experiences make you perfect for the role and your chances for success will greatly improve.

If you want help identifying the steps of the process to help you plan for winning your next job opportunity, click here to receive a short guide entitled “The Sher Process to Your Next Job”.

Ken Sher is President of Sher Coaching and he is dedicated to improving individual and team performance by focusing on Executive Coaching and Career Management. If you would like to learn how the TRUST model can help you with your job search or improve your team’s performance, reach out to Ken to schedule a complimentary coaching session. please call him at (215) 262-0528 or email him at

Ken Sher

Ken Sher is an Career Coach and Executive Coach who focuses on the whole person when helping them with professional or personal issues they are trying to manage. Ken's areas of expertise include job search, career management and leadership development. If you would like to reach out to Ken, please call him at (215) 262-0528 or visit his web site at