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This post was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I was rejected from a role for not answering an interview question.

I had all the skills they asked for, and the recruiter and hiring manager loved me.

I had a final round of interviews — a peer on the hiring team, a peer from another team that I would work closely with, the director of both teams (so my would-be grandboss, which I thought was weird), and then finally a technical test with the hiring manager I had already spoken to.

(I don’t know if it matters but I’m male and everyone I interviewed with was female.)

The interviews went great, except the grandboss. I asked why she was interviewing me since it was a technical position and she was clearly some kind of middle manager. She told me she had a technical background (although she had been in management 10 years so it’s not like her experience was even relevant), but that she was interviewing for things like communication, ability to prioritize, and soft skills. I still thought it was weird to interview with my boss’s boss.

She asked pretty standard (and boring) questions, which I aced. But then she asked me to tell her about the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career and how I handled it. I told her I’m a professional and I don’t make mistakes, and she argued with me! She said everyone makes mistakes, but what matters is how you handle them and prevent the same mistake from happening in the future. I told her maybe she made mistakes as a developer but since I actually went to school for it, I didn’t have that problem. She seemed fine with it and we moved on with the interview.

A couple days later, the recruiter emailed me to say they had decided to go with someone else. I asked for feedback on why I wasn’t chosen and she said there were other candidates who were stronger.

I wrote back and asked if the grandboss had been the reason I didn’t get the job, and she just told me again that the hiring panel made the decision to hire someone else.

I looked the grandboss up on LinkedIn after the rejection and she was a developer at two industry leaders and then an executive at a third. She was also connected to a number of well-known C-level people in our city and industry. I’m thinking of mailing her on LinkedIn to explain why her question was wrong and asking if she’ll consider me for future positions at her company but my wife says it’s a bad idea.

What do you think about me mailing her to try to explain?

Don’t do that.

Not only did they reject you for this job, but it’s very likely they won’t consider you for jobs there in the future. Emailing an interviewer to “explain why her question was wrong” (!) will only make it worse.

There a number of problems with how you approached this hiring process, but the biggest is that you were arrogant and snotty to one of the interviewers. And not just any interviewer, which would be bad regardless of who it was, but to the hiring manager’s boss! No reasonable employer would hire you after that; if you’re rude and snotty to someone several levels above you, it’s just too damning about what you’ll be like to work with day-to-day.

You told your interviewer that maybe she made mistakes as a developer but since you “actually went to school for it,” you didn’t have that problem? Aside from how rudely insulting that was, that made you look incredibly un-self-aware. Everyone makes mistakes, whether they went to school for a subject or not, and the best of them embrace those mistakes as ways to learn. The only people who think they don’t make mistakes are people who are oblivious to weaknesses in their work, or too arrogant or insecure (and those are often two sides of the same coin) to acknowledge them. Managing someone who’s convinced they don’t make mistakes is a nightmare — and it’s an absolute non-starter in hiring, since you’re announcing that you’re going to resist feedback and be unable or unwilling to learn and grow. That on its own would have torpedoed your candidacy, and that’s before we even get into the snottiness.

But let’s talk about the snottiness too, because it’s coming through so loudly in your letter that it’s likely it came through in your interview as well. You clearly have disdain for the director — “she was clearly some kind of middle manager,” “it’s not like her experience was even relevant,” her questions were “boring,” she made mistakes because she’s inferior to you … come on. If even a fraction of the disdain that comes through in your letter was detectable  in your interviewer, that’s the kind of thing that will get you put on a “never interview/never hire” list.

And now you want to contact the interviewer — not to apologize for how you came across or to say you realize you should answered her questions differently — but to tell her why she was wrong? All that would do is get your name bolded and underlined on the “never interview/never hire” list. It will confirm that their initial assessment was right. Do not do this.

For what it’s worth, loads of people work their way into management positions without a degree in the specific subject they’re overseeing and excel there (and that’s certainly true in technical career paths). It’s also not weird or unusual to interview with the boss’s boss. It’s really common.

I’m not sure what your work life has been like up until this point — I’m guessing you’re either early in your career and don’t yet understand how work works, or you’re further along but have been oblivious to how much interpersonal skill deficiencies can hold you back — but this should be a wake-up call that treating people with contempt and arrogance won’t get you the results you want.