Dr. Sundar ParthasarathyGuest Author

How authentic is your response?

By | Dr. Sundar Parthasarathy | Helping you with insights and actions for success

Many people I have coached in C-suite roles have felt that showing consistency at being authentic is one of their greatest challenges – and it comes with a huge payback.

Read Mr. Aviral Bhatnagar’s post here https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6381113900326326272/, where he says that in giving a “brutally honest” response to an open-ended question, he ended up looking “brutally stupid.” By “criticizing a fine institution,” he has simply shown his “arrogance, criticality and ungratefulness.” His question is, “Should one be brutally honest in interviews?”

Like they say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” But even that calls for being reflective. Mr. Bhatnagar’s post indicates that he is not only reflective but also chooses to share with candour. 

One cannot miss Mr. Bhatnagar’s desire for honesty. Are there times when you too were honest while responding to someone? So, did you feel comfortable in your skin with your honest response? The other question is, how a “sugar-coated” or “couched” alternate response (to make it sound softer) would have rested with you? To what extent would you have lost your centeredness – and perhaps making you appear less confident or authentic? Would you have carried a disappointment (much after the conversation) because you felt you were either not honest as you like yourself to be or the essence of your response got lost in the “couching”?

Many people I have coached (at C-suite level) have felt that showing consistency at being authentic is one of their greatest challenges – and it comes with a huge payback. Honesty is fundamental to authenticity. Mr. Bhatnagar demonstrated his desire and ability to be authentic, perhaps drawing upon your personal experiences and observations (authentic and not hear-say or conjecture). And without rambling, he narrowed down his recommendation to two focus areas (again good, because of the specificity).

That said, he could have acknowledged some vital upsides at that institution (as he later points out in his post). That too is being authentic. Especially, when answering an open-ended question, it is best to start with positives (no matter how small they may seem). He could have then gone on to say that his gratitude (again pointed out in his post) for the institution makes him think of things that must improve. And, go on to offer his recommendations on the two areas that he sees as vital. That way, his response would have been balanced (i.e., authentic).

Yes, it was an interview! And so, in the interest of brevity, he could probably have ended by saying that he could go into details if desired. That way the call is with the interviewer(s), and should they have asked, he could have done it with some examples (from the institution) and comparisons (with other institutions). Authenticity is also about reliability and specificity of the data/information.

We are often called to give our inputs/views. The more impactful one’s role in an organization/situation, essential it will be that one takes a clear stand. The use of the template of “appreciative inquiry” can be a great way to build skill at being authentic in responses. And, you may be asking such a question too. In which case, you can help the respondent(s) be authentic.

Lastly, hiring decisions are highly subjective. For all you know, Mr. Bhatnagar did not get the internship because the interviewer(s) may have thought that his candour may not quite fit in the culture in that organization.

Let me know what you think. Please share your experiences in giving and receiving authentic responses.

Keep building your ability and practice of reflection.

And let us thank Mr. Bhatnagar for his post.

Republished with permission and originally published at Dr. Sundar Parthasarathy’s LinkedIn

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