Should I lie about my levels of competence during an interview?

Thursday March 19 2020

It is unlikely that your unfamiliarity with this software is the main battleground. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

Q: I recently qualified for an interview with a tech company and got the job. However, to my surprise, my supervisor asked me to use a new software that I’ve never encountered before. I’m at crossroads because I want to keep the job, but being honest could make me lose it. 

 A new job is bound to come with certain unfamiliar aspects even for individuals who have held similar roles before. In fact, besides the opportunity to grow, it is this unfamiliarity that often sparks a candidate’s interest in a new role. Any recruiter expecting to find a candidate who meets all the job requirements is likely to find a unicorn much sooner.

Is the ability to use the said software a key requirement for the new role? Do you require special training in order to use it effectively? How much research have you done about the software upon learning that it is a requirement? Do you have acquaintances who use the software and who could share useful experiences with you? Is the software so complicated that you cannot convince the recruiter that you can learn to use it as you have those with which you are already familiar? Is it not possible that the software will morph with time and require continued learning from its users?

It is unlikely that your unfamiliarity with this software is the main battleground on which you will either triumph or fall during the interview. If previous experience in using the software was the only requirement, then you have reason to agonise. Organisations however look for competency as well as the candidates’ potential and character. There is a culture to adapt to, stakeholders with whom to develop meaningful relationships, and values to uphold in the organisation, among other elements.

It is better to place your bet with honesty and lose an opportunity, rather than be dishonest and risk facing lasting negative career consequences, besides hosting an unsettled conscience. The cost of losing an opportunity for telling the truth will ultimately often prove much less than that of telling a lie. Remember that your character is more valuable than your competencies or reputation. To quote John Wooden, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are”.

Fred Gituku - Human Resources Practitioner; [email protected]