I Call Bullshit

Last modified on April 14th, 2008

I have, over the course of my career, given a pile of interviews. One of the trends I’ve seen a lot in recent years is people who feel the need to lie or exaggerate on their resumes.

There’s nothing wrong with wording your experience in such a way to promote you a bit better, just so long as you don’t lie or stretch the truth to the point where it’s unbelievable. In fact, when I started in the realm of software development, I had basically zero real world experience in the area, and that was often looked as a complete detriment to me (even though I had been coding since I was about 15 years old). So in that case, I had to really stretch things a bit on my resume to make it look like I could handle a software engineering job. But the reality was I could back up what I wrote.

I gave an interview last year to this guy with a master’s degree who was applying for a job at our company. His resume seemed really impressive – he had a ton of journal publications, and seemed to know a lot in his field. So when I sat down with him, I began my usual binary search of his knowledge tree. First question I asked was for him to explain to me, in technical terms, what his last journal paper was about. He couldn’t do it. So I asked him to pick any paper he had written and go up to the whiteboard and describe to me what the point of the paper was. Same deal. So basically, he had either lied, or got his name on a bunch of papers he really knew nothing about.

I see that alot actually. I really don’t know how you can walk into a room knowing that you’re completely full of crap. Nobody is expected to know everything in an interview, and I give brownie points to people who simply say they are not sure when I ask them something, instead of pretending to know the answer.

Anyways, that’s enough ranting for now.

6 responses to “I Call Bullshit”

  1. When I saw the title, I thought you were commenting on the “The End of Microsoft Windows” thing again. 🙂

    The reality is that we all have very varying degrees of integrity. You were able to justify it to yourself when you “had to really stretch things a bit on my resume to make it look like…”. The guy you interviewed was able to justify his own version of “really stretching things” too…

    I’m repeatedly shocked and/or disgusted by what some people can justify to themselves. :-/

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Yah fair enough. I just think you should be able to back up everything that you write though.

  3. Tawcan says:

    When I was still in university I knew someone who used to do the exact same thing all the time with his Co-op resume. He got a lot of interviews but would always get rejected. Sure you can BS but you have no technical skills once so ever. I guess that’s why another guy I know (not the same person as above) went into marketing instead of sticking around and being an engineer.

  4. Ahhh, marketing. Say no more! 🙂

    Anyway, Duane, just to make it clear: I didn’t mean above that I was shocked or disgusted by what you did.

    Your post here was yet another reminder for me to finally write that blog post of my own about integrity, marketing and other related topics. 🙂

  5. Raul says:

    I think that’s one of the problems with resumes (and in my case, with academic CVs). My academic CV ONLY contains the publications I can provide (either as PDFs or photocopies), the conferences I’ve given where I have some sort of proof, etc. That’s the way people should go about their business – can you back it up? Yay – great, you’re hired. Nay – you’re fired.

  6. Duane Storey says:

    My supervisor at UBC made me put his name on all my papers, even though he didn’t help me at all on any of them. It was retarded. I talked to the grad advisor about it, and he said that unless you are confident that you can defend a paper, your name shouldn’t go on it. In the case of my supervisor, he said that he shouldn’t get credit for the paper.

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