I carried a fake transcript to an interview

The writer was caught off guard when the panel asked him about his fake master’s degree. Photo | File

What you need to know:

  • If you have applied for jobs recently, which almost happens entirely online these days, you must have realised that most companies do not ask for your academic papers upfront.

We are only human and that means we are prone to making mistakes. In fact, it is this inclination to messing up that humbles us.

However, there comes a day when you mess up so bad that there is almost no redemption for you. There are mistakes that cannot be explained away by conjuring up any excuse whatsoever. Such a day came for me recently.

I applied for a job in a reputable company, where they needed a worker with my exact skillset. This was one of those job openings that are posted just for you; where you not only have the right skills but also the right experience. Naturally, I applied with a lot of confidence. But there was a small anomaly.

If you have applied for jobs recently, which almost happens entirely online these days, you must have realised that most companies do not ask for your academic papers upfront. They only ask for your cover letter and CV and only ask you to present your academic papers during the interview. This was different. The company asked for my CV and my academic papers to be sent together with the job application.

I wrote one of the best cover letters I have probably ever written, I dusted my papers that I had barely touched in five years, updated my CV and sent in my application.

The moment I clicked the ‘send’ button on my email, I had screwed up and sealed my fate – only, I had no idea. I had just appended a fake document that I kept from an investigative story I did for this newspaper in 2018. The article explored how people fake documents and academic papers at Nasser Road in Kampala, complete with proof. It was titled ‘The scourge of fake academic papers’.

During my investigation, I had quickly found out that one could pay for any academic paper they wished to have and to prove it, I had decided to get as ridiculous as I possibly could. I had ordered for a master’s degree in medicine and in less than two hours, I had received my transcript, complete with a Makerere University seal and stamp. Impressive, right?

Now, prudence would have one destroy such documents after the article was published. But me, I decided to keep these fake documents I did not need in the same drawer where I keep my other documents.

Fast forward to this year, I sent out this fake transcript together with my CV, applying for a communications job. I can only imagine how shocked or confused the panel was on receiving a job application from a medical doctor, seeking a low-level communications job. I have a feeling they could tell the inconsistency between my CV and my ‘academic papers’ but they decided to play along.

Fast forward to the day of the interview, I enter the boardroom, and the first question after the introductions is to talk about my academic history and work experience.

Off I go firing, trying to impress them with all the great communication work I have done and how I would be a great fit for the job at hand. I should probably let you know that it is at this point that I sensed that something was off. Thinking about it now, I just burst out laughing in self-loathing.

As I talked about my experience and how eligible I was for the job, I caught two or three yawns from the team and weird grins. Which is why I cut the mambo jumbo short to allow a second question.

“Please talk about your master’s degree in medicine,” a panelist said.

My mind froze. I had no idea what was happening. It was not possible. I can only imagine the expression the team saw on my face in those milliseconds. I just could not wrap my head around what was happening.

I had to get hold of the paper and look at it myself to believe it. It then dawned on me that I had attached a fake transcript to my CV. It was my picture and my name on the transcript. I had completely forgotten about the fake transcript I bought from Nasser Road five years ago.

As expected, the interview ended there. I had made a fool of myself quite spectacularly. I was embarrassed!

One thought though; what does that say about Nasser road papers? Your guess is as good as mine.