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.





“Fake It ‘Til You Make It” Isn’t For Me

In my job as an Employment Counsellor, I hear the mantra, “Fake it ’til you make it” from a number of people; why even some of my fellow employees. Is this really the best advice to give someone and what dangers do we expose those people to who follow such advice?

The thrust of the context in which I hear this advice being passed on the most seems to be tied to the job interview. You know, you have some innate weakness or soft spot and instead of owning up or voluntarily providing information pertaining to it, you’d be better advised to cover things up by acting the way you assume the interviewer would see as most desirable; even when this isn’t the real you. Eventually you believe or hope you’ll come around to having the skill you really don’t, or behaving the way you currently don’t. If you can fake your way through the interview, over time on the job, you’ll be the person you’re claiming to be now.

I don’t like that advice. First of all it’s dangerous. Claiming you have skills and qualifications you don’t could lead the person on the receiving end of the advice to become injured by operating machinery in unsafe ways or handling dangerous products without the knowledge needed to do so responsibly.

Heeding such suggestions also opens a person up to being assessed as dishonest, unbelievable, a poor risk and none of these are the kind of traits employers seek out. You’d like to be thought of as genuine; a straight-shooter, honest and someone who is believable.

Perhaps you might agree that lying or insinuating you have certain skills you don’t isn’t what is being suggested by the phrase at all. You might suggest it has more to do with overcoming shyness, a lack of self-confidence or interpersonal skill deficiencies.  Okay let’s look at that. So suppose you convince a timid job seeker that showing a little more bravado or courage would be a good thing and increase their chances at getting through a job interview and obtaining an offer. You tell them that the interviewer doesn’t know them at all, and therefore they can fake that self-confidence until they get out of the interview and hopefully made enough of a good impression that they get hired.

This sounds on the surface as not bad advice at all. However, what I’ve witnessed as outcomes of this strategy are two developing problems. First, the person once hired can’t maintain the façade they put up over a 45 minute interview and when exposed or confronted, reverts to their genuine behaviour. Second, the person themselves feels immense pressure and stress to be someone they aren’t; to fake being something that isn’t natural for them and essentially they’ve been set up with yet one more thing to stress about. That’s far from helpful.

The irony I’ve seen and heard is that the same people who are saying, “Fake it ’til you make it” are also saying, “There’s no one as unique as you in the world so be yourself”. Talk about mixed messages.

I do think that anytime you try to learn something new you introduce the possibility of failure as much as you hope for success. It is often a struggle in the initial stages when learning, and you might have setbacks. If what you are attempting to do is change your behaviour, you will need to stretch outside your comfort zone and do things differently than you’ve done in the past. Until such time as you feel comfortable and normal behaving a certain way, you will be conflicted between what you’ve always done that feels natural and what you’re striving to do that seems foreign and strange.

I don’t believe however that the period of transition from one to the other is faking it. I think in fact the transition period is very real; that people in this period are so genuine that it’s both exciting and scary simultaneously. So the quiet, reserved person who is after a ‘people’ job where strong communication and interpersonal skills are desired by the employer may struggle in the transition period, but what they feel is real, what they experience is genuine. If the motivation is sincere and strong, it will be enough to sustain through the transition period until they gain comfort that comes from naturally behaving and acting the way they want.

Like any new learning, building on small successes until a new skill or behaviour is mastered is desirable. One small success gives a person encouragement and reinforces the results they want to achieve. Faking anything implies you not only run the risk of being exposed by others who see through you, but you ultimately know you are faking what you’re doing; and it’s pretty hard to delude yourself when you’re intentionally faking anything.

It sounds nice though doesn’t it? It’s short, rhymes and if told to us by someone we respect as wise, it can sound like excellent advice; fake it ’til you make it. However, if you want a different mantra try, “To thine own self be true.” This has been around a lot longer; be true to yourself and others will respect you for being who you are. When you do land a job offer, you’ll end up with a job that fits with who you are and one in which you can be yourself.


Stealing From The Employer

Have you ever robbed your employer? Really? C’mon think about it; I’m willing to bet you have! (I wonder how many people will choose to ‘like’ this blog posting now!)

Stealing from an employer can be done in a few different ways. One obvious way is to slip an item into your pocket, like a pen and mistakenly find it’s still in your pocket when you get home. If you put it in the drawer at home where you keep your other pens, you’re guilty of stealing. Take it back and you’ve just ‘borrowed’ it unintentionally for the evening. This kind of innocent theft happens from time to time but boy does it ever add up. Not only are pens in this category but perhaps you tossed a post-it note pad into your briefcase or attaché and it too ended up not used for work but for home use inadvertently.

Then too there is the kind of theft that is actually planned with foreknowledge and carried out secretly away from observing eyes. Do you know what the number one item employees intentionally steal from their employer? Toilet paper! Ooohhh. Can you imagine walking out of the office with a roll or two of toilet paper in your lunch bag. Imagine if you got caught and subsequently fired for walking out with something as inexpensive as a roll of toilet paper. And in many offices, the toilet paper is of the cheapest variety! Make up your own pun at this point about getting dumped.

One of the least obvious but even more costly things that employees steal, and some on a daily basis, is time. Are you working 100% of the time that you are getting paid or do you extend your breaks, take longer lunches, chit-chat at the water cooler, check out your Facebook or Linkedin page on company time, phone the kids afterschool every day, make up your shopping list etc. Employers struggle to give their employees some freedom to use the internet for example to complete work, but also don’t want to monitor their every working moment. Some companies do pay staff to remotely monitor computer use and provide this feedback to Managers. You might find yourself confronted with your digital trail at a performance review and asked to explain yourself. Could you? It’s a company asset, company time, and even when you are on YOUR lunch, others working are affected by your computer use.

Ideas are also stolen; otherwise known as intellectual property. Often it’s only the really big scandals that hit the press, but everyday people take information they have obtained at one workplace and share that information with friends, family and even the competition. Think very carefully about what you share as you might be open to lawsuits, firing and suspension.

Even if you don’t work in an office, you might steal supplies from the work yard, contact information from another employees client lists, advanced notice of stock information etc.

I’ve heard people use the defence that the company can afford it. The employee feels slighted, underappreciated and somehow justifies the theft. There is no justification for stealing and it is what it is. Most companies, especially in retail, actually expect that a certain percentage of their stock will disappear without ever being removed from the inventory records via a sale. Some of these things are removed by customers, and others by staff. Even if you work in retail, this remains no justification for theft.

Every employer expects their workforce to be honest. Do your best to act with honesty and integrity at all times, even if you are tempted to ‘borrow’ something from the employer.

As a related but separate item. don’t steal from your co-workers either! Ever seen a co-worker open another employees desk and scoop up some loose change for a coffee? Is it really worth it if you get got pinching something? You’ll never be trusted fully again. You could end up with a disciplinary meeting and a black mark on your employee record that comes back to bite you big time when you apply for a promotion. Pretty expensive coffee!

Last but not least, it’s a competitive job market out there. If you land a job and are encouraged to help yourself to something that belongs to the employer by a fellow employee, consider the source. How do you know that the person encouraging you to help yourself isn’t just looking for a young scapegoat to blame missing items on? Maybe you took a job away from his best pal, and to your face everything is great but behind your back he’s out to get you fired. Think very carefully. If your common sense says something feels wrong, don’t do it. Resist the pressure and temptation to walk off company property with anything that isn’t yours.