Why You Should Never Lie During the Job Interview Process
Whatever you do, don’t blatantly lie — not on your resume, not in the interview. There are only two outcomes to lying for a job: you get caught and you don’t get caught. Either way, the impact of your lie can be long-lasting. It can surface at any point, during an investigation, a job promotion, even a transfer.
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Some white lies are acceptable, like when you say you led a crucial project to conclusion, when all you did was make the final presentation because the manager was out of town. That kind of small stretch doesn’t hurt your credibility, because you did after all make the presentation, and if you weren’t on top of the project, you never could have.
But, lying about your educational qualification, hiding your criminal history or employment history, etc. is a strict no-no. Many companies have an application process, where you are required to sign off that you’ve shared truthful and accurate information about your candidature. You are bound by the details you’ve shared.
If your lie gets caught at the shortlisting stage (for example, because an ex-colleague was asked to weigh in on your candidature) or during the background verification process, your application will be wholly rejected. You may or may not get to know the real reason for your rejection, but you can’t be sure your fib was not the reason for it. In addition, companies can also blacklist your application from all future application for any roles. If your industry is a close-knit one, you may not be able to secure a job elsewhere too.
Landing a job is not always easy, but it’s better in the long run to be truthful and to approach your candidature with tact.
Education: If you do not have a degree or are a few credits short of securing one, be clear about that. You may not get invited for an interview, but it’s much better that being found out at the interview stage and making the situation uncomfortable for you and the interviewer. If you do get a chance to interview, let your interviewer know about your intention to complete your graduation.
Criminal Record: If you try to hide a criminal record, it will surface during your background check anyway. There’s a chance that your qualifications can outweigh your criminal record, especially if your offense is far behind you, and you’ve already faced the consequences of your actions. So be honest, and share the details asked. If you are eligible for expungement, seek legal advice to check how this can work for you.
Exit Status in Your Previous Job: If you were fired/laid-off from your previous job and are asked to explain the reasons for your exit, share the reasons sincerely while reassuring your interviewer that you are excited to explore new opportunities. A good idea is to check with your previous manager/HR team how they have recorded your exit. It is sometimes possible to negotiate this with them.
Experience: If you do not have the relevant experience, don’t make up imaginary roles and details. A quick reference check call can throw you right under the bus. In the off chance that you do get the job, there’s just no way you can rely on your fictitious experience to perform on the real job! You don’t want to be hired only to be fired for being incompetent.
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Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
Padmaja Ganeshan-Singh is a freelance writer and an HR professional with extensive experience in employee relations, talent management and career development. She can also talk endlessly on the merits and demerits of forced distribution and pay for performance. In her free time, she tries to figure out the personality type of people she meets using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. INTJ anyone?