A Trained monkey’s blog

19 Oct 2020

Why should you be honest in an IT interview?

I have faced this and most of you might have as well. Today, I wanted to share some learning experiences that I faced during my IT career. During an interview, if someone asks you do you know this, and just to impress and try to increase chances of getting hired, we end up saying yes.

This is a bad practice.

There is a fine line between knowing stuffs and having hand-on experience with them. When an interviewer asks you do you know this? They are referring have you had any prior hands-on experience with the stuffs being asked.

You can know these things and yet not have hands-on experience with that topic. That’s perfectly fine. Companies / Interviewer do not expect you to know everything. While starting in an IT career it’s obvious you will not have experience with such complex systems (eg. VMware, data center networking, distributed system design). These are expensive systems and there is very little chance the company wants to give designing business-critical systems to a person who is just starting in their career.

Here honesty plays a very vital role. You can say “I have not had any hands-on experience on the topic asked but I have knowledge of what it is? how it is used? why it should be used as I have seen my seniors, how they designed and implemented it”. This is a perfectly valid answer. This gives the interviewer a good impression that even you did not have access to those systems, you went above and beyond that barrier to learn something. This makes you a perfect candidate to do those things in future if given chance.

Lastly, if you don’t know the question asked just say “I do not know this, or I had never come across such a problem hence I am not aware of it”. Saying yes first and then not knowing the answer is really bad. Just be honest. There are tons of information in the world, its not mandatory that you know everything, and learning is a gradual process. You can’t study one week and become a subject matter expert on something. So, during an interview, your honesty should be your best policy. It reflects attitude towards your work.

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