interview liesSo you finally landed an interview for the job of your dreams. Good for you. But because there are a million and one things out of your control that can go wrong before, during, and after your interview you don’t need to stack the deck against yourself by doing something stupid.

Yes, I said stupid. The most obvious offense being lying about your past job experience. According to the career management and job search website Vault.com, 23% of all people looking for work have admitted to telling fibs during their job interviews.

Turns out there’s no need to avoid the truth, because when polled nearly all human resources administrators felt lying in a job interview counted against you more than lack of experience. Employers place integrity at the top of their qualifications list, so if you’re caught in a lie before you’re even hired, your chances of getting hired are pretty slim. And since most companies use the Web to vet their candidates, it’s extremely hard to get away with a lie.

So to ensure your interview is squeaky clean in terms of honesty, here are the four most common job interview lies you should avoid at all costs (no matter how uneventful the truth may seem):

Lying About Your Previous Salary

Okay, so you think you should’ve been paid more at your last job. Who doesn’t? After all, isn’t that a big part of why you’re looking for new employment in the first place? Instead of making up some random salary that is easily refuted by a simple fact check, be honest and tell your interviewer how much you made, but then add something like, “However, I feel given my experience, workload and productivity I should’ve been making more.” If your interviewer asks why, give specifics. This allows you to highlight your skill set AND justify why you should be given top dollar if hired.

Lying About your Previous Position and Job Duties

This is one where an exaggeration could wind up being a boldfaced lie. For example, if you were a project manager at your previous job, that doesn’t necessarily mean all the people who worked on that project worked for you.

On the flip side of that same coin, don’t take credit for an entire project on which many people participated. Lying about your previous job duties can get you into hot water when it comes time to prove yourself. Instead, give credit where credit is due. This shows you’re not insecure about shining light on the people who make you look good (which is a trait potential employers look for in candidates).

Lying About Your Previous Boss

Okay, just because you worked for Microsoft, do you really think we’re going to believe you worked directly for Bill Gates? We’ll be hard pressed to believe you even saw the guy in the company lunchroom. Whatever industry you work in, trust me, it’s a small world. People know people who know people, and before you even get to your car after your interview, all the namedropping you did in your interview will be verified. And if someone you claim to be chummy with says they’ve never heard of you, then your credibility (as well as your new job) goes out the window.

If your interviewer asks if you know a specific person from your previous company, and you have no idea who they’re talking about, then just say so. You won’t be penalized for not knowing someone. Also, don’t claim to have worked for someone if there were one or more levels of middle management between you and that guy. That’s like saying your grandmother raised you even though your parents did all the work.

Lying About Your Previous Term of Employment

Hey, we all have calendars and we all know how to use them. It’s really easy for an interviewer to check exactly how long you worked somewhere simply by doing a People Search on Yahoo. Yes, all that information is recorded out there in cyberspace and no matter how hard you try, it’s nearly impossible to change it. So rather than be put in the position of back peddling when an interviewer calls you to explain a discrepancy, just tell him how long you worked at your previous job to begin with. If it was a short tenure, explain why. And if you really don’t want to talk about it, leave it off your resume. But be prepared to come clean if your interviewer should ask you about it anyway.

So what about you? Do you think there’s ever a time when it’s okay to lie during the interview process? If so, we’d love you to share your views. Also, what’s the most creative (or incredible) lie you’ve ever heard about with regards to a job interview? Post a comment and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you!

2 comments on “4 Lies to Avoid During a Job Interview

  • When I was 21, I applied for a position as a bartender. I didn’t know until I got there that it was a topless bar! The biggest lie I every told in an interview is that I’d worked in a topless bar before. The Interviewer just said, “yeah, right” and told me and my training bra to get outa’ there.

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