Musthafa Ebadi
Are you really smart if you know everything?
by Musthafa Ebadi on August 14th, 2014

I was in process of hiring someone few months ago when I came across a very impressive resume.

Few days later I brought the candidate for in person interview,  and while she was very impressive candidate few minutes into an interview I noticed something that started to raise a red flag for me.

There wasn’t a single answer for which she needed time to think about before her answer.

Initially I thought she was asked those questions before so she might have thought about them in advance. However I started to notice a trend; as soon as I would finish the question she would have the answer for me within a micro second. 

Now I am a type of person that believe in hiring someone smart and more importantly someone right for my team and the culture of I have built.  As soon as I get a red flag I start exploring it further to evaluate if it really is something to be concerned about or with few follow up scenarios and questions my reservations are put to rest. I call it “peeling the onion” phenomena.

As I started to ask more questions the trend of divulging an answer right away continued. It got worse when I started to purposefully ask long winded questions. I even tried to hint that always knowing or projecting to know everything can be detrimental to any conversation especially an interview.

I  liked her qualifications and experience but wasn’t sure she would be the right fit for my team so I continued to come from different angles hoping my reservations would be put to rest but it went from bad to worse.  It got to a point that some answers were coming out without the questions being finished – a very rude gesture.

I took the last 5 to 7 minutes to articulate to her that while she is very qualified and would do wonders in her career lack of proper listening skills could impede her growth and progress. She countered that she believes the more she learns and knows the more chances of progressing, and hence her belief that if she has answers for everything it will prove her intelligence.  

I begged to differ but as a courtesy to finish the interview cordially I left it at that.

As I went back to my office and start to reflect (like I do after every interview) I realized that in process of trying to come across smart we may come across unfit or even rude. When you take time to think about a question, not just in interview but in your day to day conversations, your answers come across more genuine, credible, and you command more respect.

So are you really smart if you try to show that you know everything? Maybe not if you ask my opinion.

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post.

Thanks for reading!

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