Interview Tip: Honesty is the Best Policy

Interview Tip: Honesty is the Best Policy

by Jason Lewis on Jan 5, 2020

SITE NAME CHANGE: Hi there, this is just a quick note to explain why the site name seems to have changed. I've decided that my personal domain of Gecko8 wasn't nearly descriptive enough. I want to cover not just code, but how to make our lives better as developers. With that goal in mind, I feel Life And Code is a better choice. I hope you agree!

Anyone who's ever gone through the interview process understands the temptation to embellish their skills and experience. This is especially true for those just getting started in the industry. We all want to make sure we get the job. Is this really a good idea though?

Quick disclaimer: I am in no way a professional recruiter. I have however spent a reasonable amount of time on both sides of the table (recruiter and recruitee) and have made good and bad decisions on both. Hopefully this gives me some useful insight but that's for you to decide.

The Interview Comfort Zone

Relax and be yourself

#### Relax and Be Yourself

I don't know about you but I'm much more relaxed when I'm just being myself. When you're actively trying to impress the interviewer by "enhancing" your capabilities, there's always the concern that you're going to get tripped up on the details. Who needs that stress?

Another point to remember here is that you're not the only one being interviewed. You're also interviewing them. Wouldn't you rather find out if the company is a good fit for you as you are, rather than a good fit for the imaginary you you've created? If you're not very familiar with tech A that they're asking about, be straight with them and ask questions. That way you'll find out if it's really critical or if they're willing to let you have time to learn it. If it's a must have, personally I'd rather find that out at interview time.

The Technical Challenge

If you're applying for a technical position, whether that be as a technician, developer, or some other tech role, there is a definite chance the employer will hit you with a technical challenge of some sort. The primary purpose of this challenge is to see whether you can actually deliver on the promises you made up until that point, I.E. on your resume or in the interview questions. Since you have no way of knowing what will be on that challenge, does it make sense to over-promise what you can do?

A Shaky Foundation

Let's say you're an amazing salesperson, manage to convince the interviewer that you are incredible, and get the job. Let's also say that maybe you oversold your skills a bit but hey, you got the job. That's all that matters right? The problem with this is that now the employer thinks you are capable of more than you really are so they assign you to a project that's out of your scope. What do you mean you need a few weeks of training to get up to speed? But you said in the interview that you have two years experience doing exactly this. What? You did some tutorials over a two year period?

Is this really a position you want to find yourself in? Personally I'd much rather wow the employer with my existing skills on my first project than have to prove to them that it's okay, I can learn fast.

Employers Appreciate Integrity

By being willing to answer questions about your skills and abilities with something like "I've only done a couple tutorials on the subject" you're demonstrating to the interviewer that you're being straight with them. A good employer should take this to mean that even if you don't necessarily have all the specific skills they want, you're probably the kind of person they want to hire for the long haul. If they don't see it that way, maybe they're not the right employer for you.

A Good Night's Sleep

In my last interview (I got the job), I followed the above advice and came out of the interview feeling really good about it and myself. And more importantly, my employer expressed their appreciation for my candor during the interview and afterwards. Most importantly of all, now that I've started the job, there are no unrealistic expectations of me. Our new relationship is off to a great start!


The Goal

To summarize, be honest and it may not get you the job, but it will help get you the right job!