Do Anything, but Don't Lie!

Do Anything, but Don't Lie!

In my career, I have had the opportunity to interview all kinds of people. Some were remarkably insightful conversations that I learnt from. Others I still remember because they were more like spin-a-yarn talks.


Many years ago, I was part of the team hiring at a prestigious business school. We had split ourselves into two groups, each shortlisting candidates for the other. Our other team had recommended an excellent candidate for us to interview and potentially make an offer to.


On the face of it, the person had just the right educational background and some work experience that mattered to us. He was sharp in his presence and engaging in his conversation. We all seemed to love the guy.


Suddenly, my eye picked a small red flag. He had been a doctor in the armed forces and had quit by 1997. He kept talking about his contributions and leadership learnings from the Kargil War. Maybe given my own unique background in the civil service, I remembered that conflict happened in 1999! I continued to explore with him his learnings in the war, and he was eloquent. People on my side of the table looked impressed.


That was until I asked him when that war happened! The jaws of the candidate fell, and his face became ashen. A brilliant interview lost its fizz. I quickly thanked him in order to have a polite closure. And as he walked out, I followed him. He clearly looked embarrassed. I put a hand on his shoulder and said, "You are a great guy, an excellent candidate. Be yourself in any future interview. Never ever lie. It is not worth it!"


The person is in touch with me. He has done very well for himself. He still remembers how my advice after the interview nailed his resolve forever.


Read another bite-sized story by Prabir: Don't Shoot the Messenger!

Prabir Jha is the Founder and CEO of Prabir Jha People Advisory. He has been the CHRO of two Fortune 500s and two NYSE-listed Indian majors.


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