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BE SMART. WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW, SAY SO

What you can learn from a fellow professional manager?

A recent issue of The Economic Times (ET) carries the story titled “This interview question helped Sundar Pichai land a job in Google” (https://www.timesnownews.com/business-economy/companies/article/this-interview-question-helped-sundar-pichai-land-a-job-in-google/362800).

According to ET, he (Sundar) recalled “how in his first three interviews he was asked about what he thought about Gmail, and he couldn’t respond well since he had never used the product. In his fourth interview as well, the interviewer asked, Have you seen Gmail? and Pichai answered No. Well, that didn’t eliminate him”. Instead, the interviewer went on to show and explain Gmail. In his fifth and final interview when asked about Gmail again, Pichai answered confidently. Not just what he thought of the product but also how it could be improved! A simple story with some powerful lessons. What happened when young Sundar candidly admitted to his ignorance? One, he was shortlisted for the next round. Two, one of the interviewers explained G-Mail to him. And what did Sundar do thereafter? He learnt about G-Mail and came up with ideas on how it could be even better! When you gather the courage to acknowledge your ignorance you are effectively sending out two signals. To yourself that you don’t know something, triggering your innate desire to learn. To others that you don’t know something and opening a window for them to share their knowledge.

What would you do, the next time you find yourself in young Sundar Pichai’s, shoes?

– by Ravi Santhanam for ZEUS

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Ravi Santhanam

Ravi Santhanam is a Leadership Coach and Business Consultant. He brings over a decade of experience as Managing Director & CEO of large organisations. Read about the author

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