Lying In Job Interviews? Oh, Oh…

There are those who will lie in job interviews of course; they’ll claim to have diploma’s and degrees, work experiences and skills that they clearly don’t. With little that bothers their conscious, they justify their deceit by believing that everybody lies in job interviews. They bank on being able to con their way into a job and then learn it quickly without the boss finding out what they don’t know, and possibly endangering everyone around them by hurting the company’s reputation.

These folks are unlikely to change their minds; lying after all has probably become easier to do and actually worked in the past for them so why change? Therefore, I will not waste time here reaching out to them requesting they stop. I can only hope that they do not endanger their life or the lives of those they work with by making false claims and hoping to wing it on the job if hired.

Unfortunately, these same people may be passing on such advice to others who are just starting to go through interviews.. Hearing advice and suggestions from these people whom they would otherwise implicitly trust could get them into trouble. Not only could they physically hurt themselves or others, do damage to a company’s reputation and tarnish their image with customers, the person themselves if revealed is going to have a black stain on their reputation. Forget ever working for a company that keeps files and application records.

Establishing a relationship built on deceit, half-truths and outright lies isn’t fair to yourself. After all, if you lie in the job interview you’ll have to carry that lie with you moving forward and remember the lies you’ve told and to whom. You may or may not be surprised to learn that some lies are big enough that you can be fired on the spot if the truth comes out not just a few days into the job but years later. Claim to have that degree that somehow went up with the house in flames 10 year’s ago – as did the school it was issued from – and then reveal 3 years later you made all that up and you’re out on your ear.

The best advice to receive is advice that stands the test of time. Telling the truth is by this definition good advice. When you build a reputation for being honest, your word becomes your bond; people come to trust and believe you and by association, believe IN you. That is something you build up over time, can lose in an instance and may have a longer time rebuilding than you’d imagine.

For most people, it’s more a question of not being truthful or not but rather, how much do I reveal? So for example, if you had a health concern 3 years ago that prevented you from working and now that it’s completely taken care of your declared fit and able to work again, should you or shouldn’t you reveal the original health condition? Should you be a single parent of two darling little ones, should you reveal this or keep your children and marital status to yourself? Yes it’s one thing to lie and another to voluntarily reveal information that could be harmful to your employment for the sake of being completely open and transparent.

Now I wouldn’t suggest revealing one’s single parent status nor having children as this could hurt your chances in most situations. An employer hears, ‘time off’ for not just your illnesses, but also theirs, and in addition anytime the caregiver can’t watch them, they get in trouble at school etc. etc. etc. However, having said this, there are some situations where the employer values applicants with children and they actually give an edge to applicants with little ones. An on-site childcare centre for employees would be a big tip-off that this information wouldn’t be damaging to your chances.

I would caution against voluntarily revealing a criminal record; even a charge you were ultimately cleared of as well. Now if they ask you have to come clean because they will likely want that clean criminal record check in the end, so lying in the interview won’t get you the job anyhow. But volunteer such information if you’re not asked directly? Keep that to yourself. Same goes with any addiction issues be they alcohol or drugs.

The ideal candidate for many employers is squeaky clean. You know, a clear criminal record, no addictions, academically qualified, having the experience level they’ve requested in the job postings and the licences in good standing that go along with the job. Every time you voluntarily show something that you are hoping the employer can work around or see beyond, you risk the one that they can’t. Look, it’s not that they are judgemental, it’s more a question of protecting their good name, maintaining high quality production, safeguarding their reputation, keeping their insurance costs low etc. All of these play into their policies.

Many employers do make allowances for hiring workers that need accommodations. If you see this in an ad, you have an open invitation to share your special needs or disability if you prefer, as the employer is receptive to making some adjustments provided you’re qualified to do the work advertised.

To close, keep it real but think carefully about what you reveal and conceal. Honesty is the best policy but that doesn’t mean the interview is a confessional.





Two Women With Differing Priorities

Yesterday I had two significant conversations with two different women; both unemployed, both looking for work, both going about it however with different strategies.

The first woman I spoke with and listened to, is a woman who attended a resume writing workshop a couple of weeks ago which I facilitated and then later worked with 1:1. She’s a single mom with a girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager. On top of all the usual anxieties, the child is also dealing with the fallout from an abusive father which has caused some separation anxiety, and that’s translated into several calls to mom a day from school or from home when she’s there without mom for short periods.

The state of affairs has made it difficult for this woman to look for employment. Nonetheless, there she was in the drop-in resource centre yesterday, pulling up job postings she was qualified and interested in, writing cover letters and tweaking her resume for each job posting. She smiled the whole time she and I were together, and while her teeth could use some cleaning, that was the least of her worries at the moment, so I left that discussion for another time and took the smile as gifted to me.

Seems to me that before she can really look seriously at taking a job – any job – she’d have to first get some reliable support systems in place for her daughter in addition to the counselling she’s had. Without these supports, no employer is going to tolerate or allow the high frequency of personal phone calls she currently gets from her daughter to be assured everything is okay. To this she was receptive and agreed, and she took down in writing the few suggestions I gave her for help in her local community. By concentrating first on eliminating the need for constant phone contact from her daughter, she could then concentrate herself on finding employment. To do otherwise would be to take work and then be fired in short order for the interrupting phone calls taking her away from her job.  What struck me most about her were her positive attitude, gratefulness for help received and her words of thanks for the suggestions.

The 2nd woman I had a conversation with was actually over the phone. This individual had previously agreed to attend an intensive job finding group I run but didn’t attend stating she had the flu on day 1 and then on day 2 she said her 5 year relationship had just ended and she couldn’t attend. As I’m putting together another of these groups, I called her offering her a 2nd chance to participate in May. Everybody deserves a 2nd chance. When I called, some of the first words out of her mouth were that if the program I was running was in May, she couldn’t attend. Well that ended the offer, but I was curious to know what was going on in May that made attendance impossible.

This woman told me that she was taking some time in May to spend with some friends who were going to Europe for a year, and she was spending some time with her dad which she doesn’t get a lot of. Later she also mentioned a move sometime in May complicating things. I mentioned to her that I would remove her from the waiting list I keep as job searching wasn’t her top priority at the moment. I went on to tell her that she could possibly be re-referred in the future if and when looking for work became her prime focus; and then she told me she was offended by my comments.

Now I was taken by her words. Clearly she’s made a decision to focus on spending time with both her friends and her father; throw in relocating from one place to another and job searching is moving down on the list of her priorities. I pointed that out to her, and that she wasn’t being judged in any way by me, but the program I ran was for people who were 100% focused on getting work, and to include her at this time would be setting her up for failure. I honestly think she just didn’t like me putting it so clearly; she values friends and family at this time above finding employment.

I contrast these two women and the efforts they are taking to find work. The first woman is looking for a general labour position in a factory, has a grade 12 education but understands the value of work. The second is University educated and looking for a career in the legal profession. Would you have guessed this or would you have switched the education and job goals around?

Look, Life happens to everyone; priorities for some people remain fixed and for others priorities are fluid and change. Some put the emphasis on family and friends above all else, while some prioritize employment and financial independence.  It’s really all about the choices people make; and in both situations I neither judged their actions, nor insisted on a change in their behaviour or priorities.

The behaviour and words of both these women made very different impressions on me. Think on your own choices and the values you hold that guide those choices. The values you hold will determine which of these two you identify with and whether or not you take offence or not.