10 “Lies” You Should Tell in a Job Interview

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Hiring Managers ask interview questions that are designed to give them reasons not to hire job candidates. These trap questions are meant to expose any problems you’ve had in your professional career. For trap questions, sometimes answering honestly is the wrong answer.

For example: If you’re asked about why you’re looking for a new opportunity and the reason is your boss is a total jerk (see #4), it’s not going to be in your best interest to tell that to the hiring manager or the potential boss sitting across from you. The Hiring Manager is trying to determine if you’re smart enough to lie.

Here are ten statements where you might do better stretching the truth in your next interview.

1. Every job you ever had was great.

What you’re really telling the hiring manager or recruiter is that you are a positive person. We’ve all had jobs we disliked, but it’s not a good idea to talk about it. Hiring Managers will think if you hated your last job, you might hate this one. Have at least one positive thing to say about every job on your resume.

2. Every project you’ve ever worked on was successful.

Hiring Managers don’t want to hear about your failures. Since we’ve all failed at some point, the key is to talk about your successes, and spin your failures to sound like successes. If you can’t frame a failure as a success, don’t talk about it at all.

3. You’ve done this type of work before.

Hiring managers don’t want “quick learners,” they want “experienced professionals” who don’t need training. Figure out ways to make your past experience sound like what the job requires. The more examples you can give of being experienced in what the job requires, the more likely you will look like a strong candidate for the position.

4. Your last boss was brilliant.

Your relationship with your last boss predicts your relationship with your next one. Don’t tell the hiring manager what an incompetent idiot your previous boss was. Instead, tell your interviewer your last boss was great, taught you valuable skills, and was an inspirational leader, no matter how big of a lie it is. It may hurt to glorify someone you hated who doesn’t deserve it, but it’s in your best interest, and doesn’t actually help your old boss at all anyway.

5. You’re currently working.

Hiring managers think in terms of supply and demand of candidates. If you’re employed, you’re in demand, and if not, there might be a reason. If you are unemployed, there are ways to fudge it. The easiest is to “self-employ,” either by labeling yourself as a self-employed “consultant,” or a new entrepreneur building your own business. Another technique is to volunteer at a not-for-profit, and list this position on your resume. You can also say you’re currently going back to school to get a better degree, but need to put it on hold and go back to work for financial reasons. The key is not to sound like your are doing nothing.

6. You love to work late.

What you’re really saying is you’ll work late if the company needs you to. If they ask why, say that “if you have to work late, then it’s a really important assignment, and it makes you feel good to know you can contribute more when it’s important for the company.” Employers don’t want someone who sprints for the door at 5pm, and refuses or resists working overtime when the situation demands it.

7. Every co-worker was great.

You’ve never had a single interpersonal problem with a coworker, not one fight, ever. Of course we all have, and the hiring manager knows it. The candidate who talks about past interpersonal problems, or even worse uses them as excuses, is the wrong candidate. Once again, past problems predict future problems in the eyes of a hiring manager.

8. You learned a lot in college.

More specifically, you’ve learned a lot that has prepared you for this exact job. Be prepared to cite the classes and skills you picked up which relate to the job requirements. Don’t invent classes or fake your degree, but show that what you’ve learned in college has prepared you for this role.

9. You almost never get sick.

We all get sick occasionally, but if asked, tell the hiring manager that you’re the type of person who leads a healthy lifestyle, and rarely calls in sick. Even though hiring managers aren’t really supposed to ask about this, some do, especially if you’re an older worker, or show signs of being unhealthy. Whatever you do, never discuss any past medical issues, unless absolutely necessary.

10. You have no personal problems.

We all have problems, but the key is not to discuss them in a job interview. Key examples are financial problems, family problems, and especially legal problems. Personal problems have the potential to affect a job candidate’s work life, and hiring managers are keen to avoid hiring people who have them.

 

Comments

  1. Dave says

    All good points mentioned above.

    However, one item that was not mentioned is on the seasonal worker. And the discrimination that she/he may encounter when questions on companies online job application asks about your formal education. As far as what year did you graduate from college/high school. I can understand when a company is asking this simply to determine if the candidate has the minimal education requirements. And if their degree is a tool that the company is is need of to meet the job requirements, not to mention what tool this potential employee has to meet the potential for future openings…Yet, I am more comfortable when the simple question is asked ” Did You Graduate? ” And if the company wishes to confirm this…I say go right ahead. Afterall, the truth is the key to meeting the education criteria. Yet, some companies internal application websites has an asterik next to the year that you graduated. And there is no way of getting around this. So you have to state the year.Otherwise your application is insomplete or rejected.

    However, I was told by someone in a human resources capacity that some companies use this as a guaging tool to see of the candidate is of a certain age. And some companies use this as a reason not to select certain age candidates.

  2. Dale Mark says

    It just seems sad that we really have to speak like lawyers and politicians in job interviews because “everybody is doing it”. I have realized that being “too honest” doesn’t pay. My concern is getting into a job and being fired. For instance, if I were to land a job by “lying” about certain experience and later get fired, I’ll have to “lie” to the next employer (or cover up) that I was fired. In the IT industry with things changing all the time and Job postings including acronyms you never heard of before, or expectations of certain new software applications that are a “must” that of course “everybody knows about”.

    I guess it’s time to be an “actor” not a real person. To hell with reality.

  3. Nathaniel Bellin says

    You… Are you SERIOUS?!

    What is the POINT of an interview if you’re going to tell the hiring manager exactly what you think he wants to hear? Number five, as far as I can tell from my international friends, is a uniquely American ‘problem’ for hiring managers. And while I’m not keen on lies of omission, I can understand those.

    But you’re advising people to begin a relationship with a potential boss by blatantly LYING TO HIS FACE. In WHAT kind of world is this considered any sort of a good idea?

    If that’s how companies think, perhaps I don’t want to work for them. Perhaps they don’t deserve to have people working for them. Or, better yet, deserve exactly the kind of dishonest dredge that this kind of counter-intuitive bullshit will net him.

  4. leanora says

    I work in human resources, and I really hope that this article will not be taken seriously by job-seekers. The questions this person mentions are asked by potential employers because we DO want to hear the truth! If you had a project that failed, we want you to say so, but we will also ask what when wrong and how you could have done things differently. If you had a disagreement with a co-worker or supervisor, SAY SO, but also tell us how you overcame the disagreement or situation. If you come into an interview and make it sound like your life – present and past – is just peachy with nothing but glowing success and never a dark moment, you can bet that we are going to be suspicious. Honesty is and always has been the best policy!

  5. Tyler says

    In regards to Nathanjels comment, you are missing the point. I agree transparency and being candid is better, but the point is to leave certain things out that might be detrimental to your image. Unless directly asked, there is some shit you should leave out of responses. Unfortunately, every co. you would want to work for is that way. You are pitching yourself and need to understand the sales process.

  6. Sandy says

    I realize the title of this discussion was meant to catch attention as lying is never good advice since every time you do it will at some point catch up with you, whatever the justification.

    That being said, I totally disagree that hiring managers are looking to trap applicants so they can find a reason not to hire them. (unless you are interviewing with a totally mean, sadistic human being who does not have enough work to do otherwise). When we are looking to fill a vacancy or a new position, we really do want to hire – but need to ensure it is the right hire. Questions asked in an interview are meant to glean additional information that helps determine the real person from the glowing portrayal on paper.

    Most of the advice here is good – you do not need to discuss every icky thing you’ve failed at, however you do need to show that you have learned from your mistakes, that you consistently work to come up with solutions, and that you respect the boss and organization you worked for even if it did not work out. Additionally, I want to hear what initiatives you have implemented in your past experiences, how your career path has helped you moving forward and if currently employed, why you are looking to make a change.

    Your resume will show me your education, experience, and certifications and if you show me honesty, self-reflection, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, professionalism, and how your strengths can help our company ~ you’ve probably landed the position.

  7. Donna Pascoe says

    Really? “Hiring Managers ask interview questions that are designed to give them reasons not to hire job candidates.” “The Hiring Manager is trying to determine if you’re smart enough to lie.”
    Some of these responses suggest that the Hiring Manager is too inexperienced to see through the smoke screen.
    Hiring Managers generally don’t waste time interviewing a candidate with the hopes of rejecting them; they ask questions to find the candidate that is best suited for the position. In my view- presenting the truth in a positive light is acceptable, but lying isn’t. Lying may help you get the job but in the long run it will likely prove disastrous for the individual and the company.

  8. Adam Smith says

    I think some people are missing the point here. I agree with the author about almost everything he says and it’s helpful to put all of these together for inexperienced job seekers. This is the reality, when applying and interviewing most recruiters are looking for ways to disqualify the majority of applicants, so why say something that will easily disqualify yourself? Perhaps he shouldn’t have said ‘lying’ about answers, but certainly it is more than necessary to omit the truth. I’ve worked places with terrible bosses or working conditions and as much as I would like to give the real reason for leaving a company I always give the non-controversial answer. It’s sad that we have to pretend to be perfect robots
    that clearly never took a job because they had to pay the bills regardless of whether or not you really wanted it. Most recruiters and companies are only looking for a candidate to meet xyz criteria and can’t read between the lines for potential–or are afraid to because their success is measured on quality placements.

    I’d say that the author shouldn’t necessarily say “lie” but definitely keep any and all negativity out of your answers and if asked about a failed project–spin it positive.

    Also I find it sick that employers view the unemployed unfavorably when they are the most in need of work. And then those that take an unrelated position to their desired career can still have a hard time because they “don’t have a logical career progression”

  9. Alun Palmer says

    Re the comment about the field workers, I do have a solution to that. Their year of graduation should be 0000. If asked, I would put that, because my country doesn’t even HAVE high school graduation, or anything remotely similar to it. We only graduate college, which I did, thanks very much.

    The jobs I apply to don’t even ask about high school, but they do have silly forms that require I enter college GPA. Again, not being from the US originally I don’t have a GPA. Entering 0.0 in the forms always seems to work.

    Of course, if their stupidity extends as far as automatically screening by GPA then I would always be screened out. Perhaps I should put 4.0? I didn’t get good grades, but I just don’t have a GPA atall. I have a degree, though.

  10. Melissa says

    Some of this is valid, some of it is BS. The truth is somewhere in the middle, as they say. Each interviewer is a different human being. Each interviewer is going to have a different way of evaluating answers. Obviously there are some commonalities… but if they ask you “tell me about a time you failed”, they want to hear when you failed and also that you learned from it. Whether or not you turned it into a success, you learned for your next job or project. I believe that is common sense. If you tell them that everything was turned around into a complete success, they are not going to believe you. Bear in mind that the writers who post these articles are working from their frame of reference. It varies per industry, size of company, etc. I also work in Human Resources, and I am pleased to see other commenters and HR professionals who are not thrilled with certain aspects of this article. Job seekers – use common sense and do research, but never take one article (such as this) as the holy grail. I have been seeing a lot of BS attention-grabbing articles on LinkedIn as well as here.

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