Picture this: You're being interviewed for your dream job, and it's going great, until your interviewer asks you a question that stumps you.

What do you do? Do you admit that you have no clue, or do you make something up on the spot, hoping that you're not completely off the mark?

Now, most folks' knee-jerk reaction might be to try and bluff their way through. But as CNBC reports, when Sundar Pichai interviewed at Google back in 2004, he did the exact opposite.

During the session, Pichai's interviewers asked him what he thought of Gmail. Pichai didn't know what to say, because Google had just announced the email service the very same day. In fact, he even thought it was an April Fool's joke.

Once Pichai realized his interviewers were asking him a genuine question, he told them that he couldn't answer the question -- because he hadn't been able to use the product.

In one of the later rounds of the session, an interviewer showed him how Gmail worked, and this allowed Pichai to answer his subsequent interviewers' questions about Gmail. Pichai was eventually hired as VP of product, and today, he's Google's CEO.

The moral of the story? Humility is key. It doesn't matter whether you're trying to snag a job at one of the most prestigious companies in the world, or whether you're an entrepreneur trying to grow your business -- if you aren't humble enough to admit when you've got no clue, then you're setting yourself up to fail.

The more humble you are, the more you can recognize your own flaws.

This, in turn, allows you to grow and improve.

Personally, I excel in marketing and sales -- those are my two biggest strengths. But guess what I'm not good at? Operations, finance, administration, and everything in between.

So, how did I grow my business? I assembled a kickass team of people who were amazing in all the skills that I lack. Take it from me--if I had stubbornly continued on, and refused to admit that I needed help in these areas, I would never have grown A1 Garage to the $30 million-plus business that it is today.

While I've achieved a great deal of success with my company, I still make it a point to remain humble. When writing my book, for instance, I realized that I wasn't an expert on some of the topics I wanted to cover (financing and service agreements, for instance).

Again, instead of trying to bluff my way through, I admitted that I needed help, and invited two experts in the industry to contribute to my book. This resulted in a win-win -- I built a great relationship with both these experts, and at the same time, created more value for my readers.

The bottom line? While it might be tempting to pretend that you know what you're talking about, it's far more beneficial to just admit that you've got no clue. Once you do this, it opens the door to new learnings, growth, and opportunities for you to become better at what you do.

Published on: Feb 22, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.