Interview call due to inflated grades

Hey guys, I'm in a bit of a conundrum. About 3 months ago, I was networking with a senior banker (alum from my school) at one of the big 5 Canadian banks. I graduated back in 09 and working in the middle office at a large Asset Management firm. Anyway, I've been trying to break into banking for a while, and my marks aren't exactly stellar, however, when this banker asked for my grades, I succumbed to my nervousness and told him a cumulative average 5% higher than what it actually is (I don't know why I did that, and I really regret it).

At the end of our meeting he asked for me to send him a copy of my transcript and resume, and since I had already told him a cumulative average 5% higher (this roughly is roughly equivalent to 0.2-0.3 on the gpa system), I inflated a few of my course grades in my final two semesters to reflect that. I had absolutely no intention of keeping in touch with this banker because of my mistake and decided not to pursue him anymore, since I can't live with a lie.

Anyway, surprisingly, I get a voicemail from HR at his bank asking to schedule for an interview (3 months after this whole incident took place). This is where the real problem starts since I never intended to continue with this bank anymore for the risk of getting caught, but he apparently forwarded my name to them. I don't know how I should address this, if I should at all. Should I return the call and accept the interview, or just ignore it? Even if I do go for the interview, what do you guys know about background checks at these banks? Or should I just maintain contact with them and forgo this "fake" opportunity for possible future opportunities where they don't necessarily look at grades?

PM me if you want to know which bank it is; please only ask if you know inside details regarding such background procedures.

Thanks in advance.


Comments (22)

Jul 12, 2010 - 7:48pm

I have only dealt with institutions in the United States, but for the two jobs that I have accepted the background check involved an education verification portion. The 3rd party conducting the background check asked me for my undergraduate GPA (and also graduate GPA when I went back to school) and also had me sign waivers agreeing to release my university documents.

In other words they have access to your official transcripts and they compare these to what you have given the bank. Not sure how it works in Canada, and I am not sure if this is how it happens across all companies.

Jul 12, 2010 - 7:58pm

Hm. I'd say take the interview one way or another. If the banker you spoke with has forgotten your GPA and HR hasn't caught the discrepancy, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If it does come up in the interview, you could:
1) Come clean. Say you succumbed to nervousness and did something you shouldn't have, and that you are still very interested in banking but willing to accept any backlash from your lie.

2) Lie again. Maybe say it was your major GPA or your GPA from a previous semester, or it was a typo you didn't catch. Start weaving that tangled web and hope for the best.

Regardless of the choice above, at the very least you will get some interview experience.

Best Response
Jul 12, 2010 - 8:30pm

I'd say the first thing you did was forgivable. You could always chalk it up to a misstatement or maybe he didn't remember exactly what you said, or you forgot, or any of a hundred other reasons. Still kind of shady, but nothing a strong interview couldn't overcome.

The second thing, where you falsified official documents and sent them in, is completely outrageous, fraudulent and inexcusable. What on earth were you thinking? If you come clean, then if I were doing the hiring, you would immediately be out of consideration. If you do not come clean, there is a very very very small chance you will get the job and know one will find out, but the risk of basically blackballing yourself from the hiring process at every single bank is similarly very very high.

Cut your losses, come clean, accept that you will not be working for this bank and for God's sake, son, don't do anything this stupid ever again. Geez. Kids today.

Jul 12, 2010 - 8:49pm

If you want to be honest and take the interview you could go with BluesHill's option 1 and hope for the best.

Edit: Take note to what jhoratio says. I'm way off course with my recommendation. I was just reiterating the moral option if you do decide to take the interview.

Jul 13, 2010 - 10:23am

Look, rounding up GPA: excusable. Less so if you round up from 3.72 to 3.8, but there's a significant difference between this and changing actual grades on a transcript: that's not just a no-no, it's a HELL EFFING NO. Please don't do it again.

As for the advice, I am siding with the don't go to the interview side here.

Jul 13, 2010 - 10:26am

1) Yes rounding is ok because you can just say that you rounded. Even stating a false GPA is forgiveable, as jhoratio says. Falsifying documents is an absolute no-no. Forget the interview. Come up with an excuse, perhaps you got a small promotion in your current job. If you do the interview and they catch you, you will lose all credibility.

2) Why the hell would you falsify documents!?! This is just beyond stupid and if you admit this in the real world and not just on WSO, you will be blackballed from any banking job that MD is associated with, or even know. This was the most retarded thing you could have possibily done. But don't worry there is a solution. As a previous post on WSO states, just blame it on alcohol. It is the cause and solution to all problems apparently.

3) I would seriously reconsider going into investment banking (unless we were talking about commercial this whole time). You have to be confident to survive in investment banking and the lack of confidence you showed in falsifying documents proves you don't have this confidence yet. If you do some deep thinking and decide you still want to do it there are a few things that you can do to help yourself. While your grades might not be the best, I would suggest doing resume building activities (and confidence building). One of the biggest thing any HR rep looks for is actually community service. I would suggest donating your time to set yourself apart, perhaps even call the banks you want to work for and see where they sponser so that you can make contacts at the same time. Networking is more important than GPA. The saying "It isn't what you know, its who you know" is quite true in this world.

PS. I didn't mean anything insulting just some observations and suggestions for you.

Jul 13, 2010 - 11:37am

interviewing will bring to light what you did, and that can not only not get you the job, but also come back to your school--or even other banks. Just cut your losses and take this as a lesson learned.

Jul 13, 2010 - 3:06pm

Guys, thanks for all the input. I already declined the interview request, and decided not to risk it. Even if I had come clean, there would have been no way I would've been considered for the position, and worst case scenario they would notify their contacts in the other banks. As I had mentioned, I am already working full time in AM (MO, though), so I'm not too desperate to find a job.

Appreciate all the input, and yes I know, really stupid of me.

Jul 13, 2010 - 3:35pm

charlie00 yes what you did was stupid because in this industry falsying documents is a very very big deal, you would lose your CFA satus if you are caught. Also, this is a very small industry where everyone knows everything and everyone in the street so once you get a bad rep, you should considering getting out of the industry.

that being said, don't hit yourself in the head - everyone makes mistakes just learn from this and don't do it again.

By the way,

join the group bay Street oasis, i made a group for toronto people if you are interested.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Aug 16, 2020 - 8:48pm

did you forge your transcript that u applied with? if it was just verbal then i dont think it matters at all cause whoever u said it to wont remember, but if you applied with a forged trancript, unless you have a solid plan of getting around that i would not accept the interview because if you get caught you will almost definitely lose the job and get blacklisted there

  • Business School in IB - Gen
Aug 16, 2020 - 9:01pm
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