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Why You Have to Lie in a Job Interview

Why You Have to Lie in a Job Interview

It’s never a good idea to lie. It destroys your integrity, closes doors, and creates a disconnect and/or ridiculous amounts of drama between you and with whom you lied. But what happens if you need a job, so you can pay your bills, and your normal human flaws could cause you to be passed over at every job interview if you simply are honest about them?

Having been in a position to hire people for over 14 years and then becoming a career coach shortly thereafter, I found the most troubling aspect of conducting mock job interviews is when the client gives me an honest answer to an ‘official’ job interview question I ask and I am certain that the answer won’t work. And I have to stop them and say, “ummm….don’t say that….”

The more I had to do this, the more it weighed on me because I could directly relate to it. I did feel I would have to lie in job interviews and I was a Director of Human Resources.

You Have Flaws?

Let’s start with a basic question such as, “what is your biggest weakness?” Lame, I know, but many employers still ask that question. What if the truth is that you are the king or queen of procrastination? Or maybe you are so disorganized that it could truly take 10 minutes just to find something on your desk?

We are all human and these are typical human flaws. You know what your biggest weakness is but also know you can’t admit it and expect to get a job offer. So, you read some job interview books and blogs and when the question comes up you hear yourself not-so-confidently saying, “I think I need a better work-life balance because work has always been my top priority and I often sacrifice my personal life to assure my work is done well and on time”. Blah, blah, blah…. The interviewers nod their heads and give you big smiles. Excellent! You scored a home run on that….lie.

Many employers want employees who can come up with great ideas to make something better than it currently is. But there are many people who haven’t done this. They go to work and do their job well but they do it exactly as they are told. Maybe they often have great ideas but they are scared to say them for whatever reason. Or maybe they tried once and got crappy feedback and vowed to never do that again.

Regardless, if you are one of them and hear this, “Give me an example of a time when you had a great idea on how to change a process at work, what you did with that idea, and how it went”, what do you say? Are you honest and say, “Well…I haven’t really done that”? Or do you provide the one example where you got bad feedback and admit you haven’t done it since. So, you can’t handle constructive feedback? Really? How do you think that will go over? What do you say to this if you haven’t done it? Do you just make something up?

Remember, jobs pay the bills so for most people, having a job isn’t optional.

It’s Just Stretching the Truth…

So, this begs the question: do you have to lie in a job interview?

No one wants to say yes. But it’s the scary truth. Many will cry ‘semantics’ and perhaps say, “well, you don’t have to say your biggest weakness, just say a different one” or, “there’s always something better but still true you can find to say”. For some, there probably is. And, there is a “top 20%” in any given workplace; people with excellent work habits and character traits who truly may not have to lie (much) in a job interview. But for the 80% of the rest of us, this is our reality.

The truth is, employee disengagement starts at the job interview. When you know you have to lie, you get the message that you aren’t good enough to work there whether you consciously think that or not. How can you when have to hide things about yourself?

I Admit It… I would have to Lie. Now What?

The only way to find real success in the workforce is to understand all the character traits employers prefer to have in their ‘ideal employee’ and take them seriously. High integrity, innovation, strong communication and organizational skills,  positive attitude, willingness to help others, etc. Now, look closely at yourself. What do you really need to work on?

The truth is, so few people are the ‘ideal employees’ but any person can become that simply by deciding to make personal and professional development a top priority. The thing is, the character traits desired in the ideal employee are the same character traits that scream success, so why wouldn’t you want to work on yourself in order to become highly successful in any career?

The only alternative is to fake it and if you think hard on that, you will realize that faking it is the biggest cause of disengagement as you are not in integrity with yourself.

Believe Different

So how does one effectively change into this ‘ideal employee’? Well, nothing changes until the thoughts that randomly pop in our heads all day, every day, change. As long as those same thoughts are there (and they always will be until you actively work to change them) it becomes an endless struggle to change our behavior in order to become the people we want to be.

If you never came up with great ideas at work and you really looked into why that is, you will likely discover some very normal fears that surround it. Likely, the voice in your head says something like, “they will just hate it”. Ask yourself, why do you feel that way?  What if you worked through that to find out what’s really behind your fear of crticism and then changed how you think? Perhaps then you may start offering new and great ideas and wouldn’t it be great to have something real to say in the job interview when asked that question?

Learning how to change your beliefs/thoughts is the key to finding yourself as one of the top 20% in your workplace and that is the ideal place to be in any company. You will then be one who is offered jobs, easily promoted, and given opportunities that simply aren’t possible otherwise. Better yet, you will find that you no longer have to lie in your job interviews. This builds confidence.

Many people spend their entire careers struggling. There is a better way – become the person you say you are in job interviews. Choose to take the next step which is necessary if you want to bring any career to the next level. It takes a lot of effort but it’s definitely worth it because truthfully, it takes far more effort (and stress!) to try to be someone you aren’t. We just don’t see it that way because we likely have been trying to be someone we aren’t most of our lives. This is  debilitating and destructive – embrace change and choose a better way.

One Comment

  1. Being in integrity is essential, Jessica, and if one finds oneself having to tell lies at an interview, then that is a sure sign that the job won’t last and the interviewer will know that the candidate tends to hide truths.

    Employee disengagement does start from the moment one has to tell a lie, a half-truth or even a white lie. In the days when I worked in the corporate world, I preferred to tell the truth although I would phrase it in a manner that was in integrity with me as a person and a professional and move on to questions that demonstrated that I was the right person for the job – with all my weaknesses and strengths.

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