Science says people with “intellectual humility” are best learners and Google CEO Sundar Pichai proved that 15 years ago

When we appear in an interview before a panel, we all try to give the best answers to every question in-order to stand out from the rest of the candidates. Sometimes there are tricky questions we’ve no idea about, but to impress the interviewer, we still try our best to answer with confidence.

We do not realize, a bad answer could actually have us out rooted in the race of hiring. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai faced a similar situation in 2004 when he appeared before a panel for the job of VP product management at Google. In an interesting conversation with students of the Indian Institute of technology in 2017, Sundar revealed detailed about his interview experience at Google.

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According to Sundar, in the first rounds of questions, one of the interviewers asked him what he thinks about Gmail?.

There was a problem. Google had just accounted for its Gmail service on the same day, April 1st and Sundar surprisingly took it as “I thought it was on April Fool’s day joke“. He replied by saying, he could not answer the questions because he has never used the product.

When the same question was asked of Sundar in the 4th interview, Sunday replied “No“.

The interviewer then actually showed Gmail to Sundar. In the next interview, 5th precisely, when the same question was asked, Sundar started answering the question because he had learned a lot about Gmail after his last interview.

This talk has an amazing take away for everybody. Instead of making up something and give a wrong answer, Sundar did the exact opposite and clearly said he does not know. This must-have impressed the interviewers, Afterall, he got the job.

Looking at this impressive incident, Science agrees, too. Research says, people with “intellectual humility”, with the willingness to admit what they don’t know – are better learners.

In an interview with The New York Times, Laszlo Bock, Google’s former senior VP of people operations says it is top quality. He added further:

“Successful, bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure. They instead commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved.”

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Written by Hisham Sarwar

That is all you ever need to know about me but let me warn you, freelancing for me is a journey, certainly not a destination :)