Job Interview? Don’t Tell Them How Smart You Are

The way we treat the smart people in this world is fascinating to me.

We are painfully aware that smart people got kicked in the teeth quite a bit during this pandemic. We know this because old people’s opinions on Facebook were clearly more factual than the expert’s PhD.  My doctor told me he couldn’t remember how many people told him – a doctor – that Covid was merely the flu, with a little kick. He stopped trying to convince them.

Some scientists early in the pandemic believed masks were not crucial to stopping the spread. Dr. Fauci even said so. People do not allow course correction, which is exactly what science is. Scientists learn new things, and change their theories. That’s how it’s done. But the conspiratorial masses double and triple down on prior statements, claiming propaganda instead of pragmatism. Experts are no longer allowed to be wrong.

Smartness, especially as it relates to science, is now political. There is no bigger enemy to facts than politics.

A science curriculum proposed for schools in Kentucky was mocked by some parents for being “fascist” and “socialist”. The crimes of the syllabi were radical concepts like evolution and human-powered climate change.

I contacted an HR manager recently, explaining I was going to write about this subject and wanted her thoughts.

“I have to admit, sometimes a candidate with an avalanche of degrees and obvious intellectual superiority makes me pause. I’m not proud of this, but it does cross my mind to consider the candidate carefully.”

“…well, we worry about their social skills, working with the teams. We worry they will bore easily and not be fully engaged with their projects…”

There can be a perception the super-smart aren’t really interested in what we might call normal work, and will avoid it. Oh, and smart people probably want higher salaries. That’s a problem too.

There is evidence everywhere of this bias toward the superior among us.

I am extremely proud of myself for one particular behavioral trait: I am willing to admit I’m wrong.

Tell me something I don’t know. Show me evidence I’m incorrect. Okay, I’ll change my mind. I’m not a hostage of a worldview. I don’t politicize facts. Of course, I have as many opinions on the world as you do. I’m just not locked in. This is liberating. I don’t need to signal anything to my tribe.

People who are unable or unwilling to modify their worldview will, for example, not wear a mask, tell everyone we’re sheep, and argue and argue and fight and battle and post and tweet about this simple, smart act of kindness and politeness. They will die on that hill to be right. And they will die on that ventilator to prove they are the smart one. They need their belief to be right. If they agree they are wrong, they have shattered their place in the world. So they can’t change. Understanding this might give us a bit of empathy towards the biased. They can’t be wrong, because they will have no reason to live if they are exposed as wrong. Isn’t that sad?

By this way, here’s the worst kept secret in the world. This is Q. His name is Ron Watkins, an administrator of raw-sewage website 8kun. Some dude, not a government insider. LOL.

His ego got the better of him. He inadvertently outed himself in a documentary about the QAnon movement. Q fans won’t believe it. They can’t believe it.

Smartness is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Now I know why a friend of mine does not mention he has a PhD from an Ivy League school on his LinkedIn profile. For most jobs not demanding one as a condition of employment, why would you?

Should you downplay your mental superiority in a job interview?

Yes, you should, in most cases.

You should present yourself as capable and qualified, avoiding comment on your honors, degrees, and all of your other academic achievements unless specifically asked. Again, for jobs demanding expertise in a specific field, you have to tell them because that bolsters the case to hire you.

Otherwise, be wary, lest you be judged.

John doesn’t judge. Ask him to help you polish that interview presentation here.

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