Why a recent article telling candidates to lie in interviews is wrong and could hurt your career
It is rare that I will blog off the back of, and to disagree with, a specific article but I came across this one and I had to respond to it. It offers the advice of Peter Harris who is the Editor in Chief of a Canadian job board (which also has UK job listings). He shares six lies that “you will likely have to tell in order to get hired for a new job” and states that these lies are “unlikely to get caught”. In my opinion it isn’t likely that you will have to tell any lies in an interview and I would highly recommend that you don’t as inevitably they will come back to haunt you. So what are the lies he feels you will have to tell?
Avoid putting up all jobs on your CV
Harris says that you don’t have to put all of your jobs on your CV, instead you should focus on the relevant, positive experiences. I both agree and disagree with this. If you leave gaps in your CV a hiring manager with either ask you specifically about them OR assume that something bad happened during that time. It’s is probably best to mention what you did, albeit briefly. Something like this whould work;
August 2013 – June 2015
This role involved handling support calls from internal customers
If the role isn’t relevant then employers won’t care that there isn’t much detail, but they will want to know what you were doing something. If they want to know more they’ll ask, but it was likely they would have done that if there was just a gap and at least your CV hasn’t gone straight in the bin.
Saying that you liked all co-workers
Not sitting in an interview moaning about how awful a colleague is isn’t lying, saying that you were BFF’s with everyone is, and it’s highly unlikely to boot. Employers are not looking for people who will get on with everyone, but they are looking for people who are professional about their colleagues and managers. Avoid being negative and you will be fine.
Lying about your interests
Harris suggests that you should pick and choose your interests to make them sound relevant. This is a GREAT idea if they are genuinely your interests. If, for example, you volunteer for Oxfam and are interviewing for Oxfam then definitely put it on your CV. If, however, you are interviewing for a travel company but have never left the UK don’t put that you enjoy travelling. You need to be prepared to engage in knowledgeable conversations about something you are trying to sell as a relevant interest. If you get caught in a lie then your honesty and integrity will be in question. Also, if you are relying on your interests to get you the job then are you really right for the role??
Praising your old boss
Again, this is the difference between actually lying (we’re back to the BFFs again) and not bad-mouthing a boss. Just in case anyone is unsure, being rude or negative about management is a serious interview no-no. If there was a problem with your boss then focus on the things that were positive, but make sure that you stick to the truth.
Not saying why you quit your old job
Being fired from your previous job is difficult to overcome but lying about it is much worse. Hiring managers won’t like dishonesty and will see you as untrustworthy from the start. You could even find that a job offer is withdrawn if the lie is discovered. Simply refusing to tell them why you left will probably make them assume it was something really terrible. It is all in the way that you tackle it – don’t put reasons for leaving on your CV. That way you can tackle it face to face, in detail and in a positive way.
Not sharing your greatest weakness
As Harris points out, this is a bad interview question as no-one is really going to sit there and say “Well I can’t do half of the essential requirements but I quite like your benefits package so thought I would apply anyway” but everyone has multiple weaknesses and hiring managers know this. If you say you don’t have any then they will simply assume it’s arrogance. Select weaknesses that you have already found solutions to and which ideally don’t directly impact on the job. For instance I have a terrible memory so I write everything down.
In short, lying during an interview is a very bad idea. Omitting certain negatives whilst focussing on relevant positives is fine. If you really cannot find any positives then see if anyone else can (sometimes it’s hard to see the woods for the trees) or ask your recruiter how they think you should tackle it.
Check out the original article yourself and let me know what you think of his suggestions.
Victoria Watkins is Office Manager here at Corriculo Ltd. After working as a Recruitment Consultant for 5 years she moved to Office Management for an IT consultancy 7 years ago. Victoria was one of the first members of our team and deals with all of our administration and accounts. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+
photo via Timon and Pumbaa on Flickr