When it comes to job interviews, we all want to give answers that make us stand out from the rest of the candidates. That means knowing how to answer perfectly to impress the interviewers and grab the opportunity.
But what if you are posed with a question that you are unable to answer? That’s a problem Google CEO Sundar Pichai had faced in 2004 when he first appeared for an interview for the VP of product management position. During a chat with students at his alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in 2017, Pichai shared details about his interview experience at one of the world’s largest tech companies.
In the first few rounds, Pichai said that interviewers asked him what he thought of Gmail. There was just one problem: Google had just announced the email service that very same day, on April 1st. Pichai said that he thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke.
He responded by saying he couldn’t answer the question because he hadn’t been able to use the product. Pichai said it was only in the fourth interview when someone asked, ‘Have you seen Gmail?’ He replied ‘No’. Then the person showed Gmail to Pichai. After then the fifth interviewer asked, ‘What do you think of Gmail?’ And then he was able to start answering.
Most candidates would have attempted to make something out of it before moving on to the next question. But Pichai did the exact opposite and ended up impressing his interviewers (after all, he got the job). Sundar Pichai’s response was so brilliant because he displayed the “intellectual humility”, he had a reason and moreover, he redirected the conversation.
You can also find your inner Pichai as out of the millions of applications that Google receives each year, you have at least a 0.2% chance of getting hired. If you’re lucky enough to make it through the rounds and get invited to an in-person interview, think about how you can stand out. Make it count and claim your place in that 0.2%.