The Interview: Honesty and Salesmanship

I’m generally seen as someone who has somewhat mastered the whole process of getting a job.  I have seem to found a good method for constructing a resume, and then conducting myself fairly well during the interview process.  The biggest key to this: realize there’s always ways to improve yourself in this process.

When others come to me after an interview, one of the biggest challenges we all face is striking the balance between honesty and salesmanship.  There are some who believe that anything short of the blatant, harshest truth is lying.  There are others who take the opposite tact, they concentrate on framing themselves positively.  They’ll consciously go over the line any lie in order to make that sale.

I want to put this out there for the world, I believe in honesty.  I believe you should never lie to get a job, you’ll always be found out in the end, and if that isn’t enough, consider moral introspection and caution.   That being said, working in the corporate world you do have to know how to be honest, but not brutal with your honesty.  You can be honest, without costing yourself a job.  Let’s look at a few examples.

You may need to reference my resume, to get more out of this.

When I was interviewing for my role at Wells Fargo, I was asked to answer some questions on SSIS. I had built a few SSIS packages at GCS, and I had made a couple at Integration Point, but I’m by no means a master.  I know the basics.  I could load data to and from SQL Servers, flat files, etc.  I was asked to talk through setting up a package.  I explained the basics, and was probed to go into more detail, but I didn’t think I had the depth they were looking for.

I had two choices, I could say I don’t know and let it drop there.  But I don’t do that, I explain how I’ve also used DTS and bcp from the command line to load and move data (ETL).  I show on my resume where those are.  I explain how comfortable I am with the basics of those topics I could adapt to nearly any framework used to extract, load, or transform data.  I make sure they understand how my drive to better myself and learn constantly are my greatest assets.

By answering what I can, and showing my energy and excitement to continually expand my skills, they will remember that, and not so much remember that I’m not a SSIS master.

But I’d like to point out something, if you’re asked about something in the interview, and you know it’s important for a job (and long term your career), you must study it before the first day of that job.  Push yourself to do more with that technology.  Learn more about it.  You can even ask how they are using that technology during the interview.  Write down some notes on how they use it, then replicate that at home (or at your current job).

That kind of initiative will do more for you than most anything else.

Just remember you should be honest, but know brutality isn’t a selling point.  Show you have the goods they need, address your shortcomings, and push yourself to go further.  Do that, and you’ll be sought after.

By Shannon Lowder

Shannon Lowder is the Database Engineer you've been looking for! Look no further for expertise in: Business Analysis to gather the business requirements for the database; Database Architecting to design the logical design of the database; Database Development to actually build the objects needed by the business logic; finally, Database Administration to keep the database running in top form, and making sure there is a disaster recovery plan.


  1. I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

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