Intellectual Honesty

Rashmi Bansal writes:

"Can you cook?"
"Can you dance or sing?"

These, reports TOI, are some of the ‘unrelated’ questions asked in recent admission interviews to institutes like NID, CEPT and Nirma – in order to test the candidate’s character and personality.

"The questions are not meant to throw students off guard but guage their understanding, common sense and aptitude. With coaching classes available now, it is difficult to know calibre and true worth of students," says Akhil Succena, NID activity chairman for education.

Believe it or not, many people cannot answer such simple questions because they have passed exams with flying colours through ratta. And they cannot ‘think through’ or connect the theory with the practical. Which definitely does not bode well for a future career in management! Or any other field, for that matter.

How True!

Intellectual honesty is the only thing I care for when I interview candidates.

I recall I was on a panel interviewing 3rd year Engineering students on campus. Some of the candidates were from non electrical (not from CS or ECE or EEE branch); interviewing these candidates is a different ball game all together for someone like me who comes from a non engineering background, the only criteria I use is to ask  questions related or unrelated to gauge the candidates ability to communicate clearly the basics.  I recall it was probably the last interview of the day (typically we do about 60+ in a day and it is stressful for the interviewers too) and a girl candidate walked in and I started off with hobbies – cooking! So to set the ball rolling I asked her how different is it to make a Alu Paratha v/s an onion paratha and a few minutes later it became evident that she really didn’t knew how to cook! And I was like why would you want to write something that you don’t know on your resume. Who advised you to do it? Where was your sense of right and wrong?

70% of candidates come into the interview with the resume having multiple languages – Fortran, Basic, VB, C, Java, J2EE, .NET, HTML, ASP, etc. etc. I have programmed at one stage or the other in my life on most of the languages and I start with Fortran – so what are the rules for defining a integer in Fortran?

And the typical answer would be "Sir, I forget, I studied that in my first year…".

And I take out a pen and scratch the language off the resume and then ask the candidates how many such languages and lines should I scratch off from the resume.

While it is intimidating, it sets the tone for the interview – don’t lie to me! It is not worth it. Not that I like to intimidate candidates, I find more and people fill their resume with every possible piece of jargon to get the call. And I am not talking of freshers….some of the worst culprits are those with significant years of experience.

In the end it all boils down to only one thing – Intellectual Honesty! If you cheat on it, it will come and bite you someday!


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