Welcome to Asked&Answered, our monthly advice column in which Ellen Mehling, METRO's Career Services Consultant, answers reader questions. Have a pressing concern about your job (search)? Submit your question here.
Q: A job opened up where I am currently interning. It seems like a great opportunity for which I am qualified so I applied. The problem is, I learned that the other intern also applied. How can I simultaneously prove that I am the ideal candidate while avoiding an awkward situation at the office?
This is not uncommon; similar situations can happen when two employees at the same workplace apply for the same internal job or promotion or when two people who know each other apply for the same (external) job.
Your best bet is simply to focus on your own candidacy and on conveying to the employer that you are well qualified for the position on your own merits. This is your goal whenever you apply for a job, whether you know anyone else who has applied or not. If you get an interview I wouldn't mention the other intern or the fact that you know s/he has applied.
If you are on friendly terms with the other applicant and you feel comfortable doing so, you may want to let him/her know that you have applied, but you are not obligated to do this. (It may be that the other intern already knows you’ve applied, too.) Many people conduct job searches without announcing anything to anyone until they've accepted a position. If the other intern reacts negatively (that is, unreasonably) to the news that you have applied, that is his/her choice. You are not doing anything wrong or "against" the other intern by applying, so any awkwardness will be the other person's creation and you don't have to engage in it. If you are asked directly by anyone you can say politely, "I prefer not to discuss it" or something like, "I am focusing on presenting myself as a strong candidate" and leave it at that, continuing with your usual intern duties and professional demeanor in the meantime. Good luck!