Why honesty pays: tips to handle your interview

You’ve been working hard to get to the interview for the job of your dreams, and it finally paid off – the date is set, and you can’t stop thinking of how it will go. What if they would find someone more competent?

What if the interviewer would think you’re not that good for this position? Everyone around you keeps telling you to stop stressing out and just give your story some artistic touch so the recruiter would open up champagne and give you the keys to the castle directly after the interview. So a little white lie won’t do any harm, right? But a lie is still a lie, even when it’s white, and it can lead you places way darker than you could’ve imagined.

Red flags

Let’s start with the most obvious: what you tell to the recruiter can’t dramatically differ from what’s stated on your CV or your LinkedIn page. Your seniority, promotions, team size, projects you were involved in, happy customers you are praised by – there are just that many ways to check all of that.

Psychologically we are driven to tell the truth, so when the interviewer will ask you about some specific examples (and he will), and you’ll start exaggerating your experience or your part in a project, you’re very likely to fall into a trap and it will be a matter of moments when your behaviour would give you up.

What’s even more complicated, is to remember what exactly did you lie about. The mismatch of your stories can be easily caught by the recruiters when they would review your interview feedback and discuss the examples you were talking about when you met. 

You may also think that learning the story by heart would make you sound genuine, but the fact is, recruiters are highly trained people who can pick up on lies quicker than you think. Invented and memorized stories would make you sound like a robot, they would lack small details that naturally accompany the real ones.

Besides, don’t forget that each and every one of your words may (and most likely will) be checked. Background checks are made for most of the positions, especially when it comes to those who bear responsibility. So if you were in charge of a team of 5, don’t double it when speaking to the recruiters – one simple click on the website of your previous company may cost you the bright future you are so desperate to build.

The other side of truth

So, you lied, but you got the job. Well, one of the first things you’ll be confronted with, is that you don’t actually like it. No, the salary is fabulous, people are great, and yes, you’ve been daydreaming to work in this company… But somehow, you still don’t enjoy what you do. Because let’s be honest, you lied about what you like to do and what your strengths are, and now the company gives you exactly that. You said that you enjoy managing people and that being a workaholic is your greatest weakness? How come you’re now struggling during the team meetings and try to set off when the clock shows 17:59? 

When you’re honest about what you like and what you’re good at, well, you get a job that you like and you are good at! Sounds shocking, right ? Moreover, in this case, you’re more likely to get new promotions sooner than later and make the impact you’ve always wanted to make. That simple. 

When it comes to your tech skills, the truth will come out even quicker. If during the interview you told your recruiters that you’re the one behind the new-gen software this company is planning to adopt, it’s just logical that they’ll ask you to develop this software for them. But if your actual part was only to develop a small part of the interface, that would represent a not that small problem not only for your job in this company but for your reputation altogether.

You may also be tempted to tell them that you speak some foreign language, just to stand out. But imagine the recruiter’s surprise when he (native speaker) would start the conversation with you in this language and the only thing you’d be able to reply is something about getting you a couple of beers and a check. Por favor. 

The same goes about the books that inspire you (name one ? why does it inspire you ?), sports you practice (and what if there’s a yearly golf competition as a part of team building in this company ?), countries you’ve visited (your future boss might have his second home in Madrid, but what if you’ve visited it only on paper ?). And you’ll get caught in a very casual way, just because you wanted to show yourself as a person you’d like to be, not the one you actually are.

The trick is, you may get the job in any case, even without perfect Spanish (french, italian, Japanese…), but by exaggerating your experience you raise the bar so high that the company wouldn’t consider asking you less. When you won’t be able to deliver results, the disappointment from their side and a huge amount of stress from your side won’t lead to any good. 

Benefits of truth : 

  • It’s not that scary to present the real you. On the contrary, that will help you grow and gain trust in the company you’re aiming to work in. 
  • Eventually, the truth will come out. It’s always a question of time. So why not start directly with the right thing to do and be honest?
  • Showing the real you will make the difference for the recruiters. It might be that one point that will make you win the race. 
  • Nobody’s perfect. Talking about your real strengths and weaknesses will show the recruiters your honesty, integrity, and the will to achieve more. These are the values companies are looking for way more than additional tech skills.  
  • When you’re telling the truth you are at your best and will be able to make the best impression. 

Honesty and Truth 

Being honest during your job interview doesn’t mean you need to forget about diplomacy. There are things you wouldn’t like to say as they are. For example, you’re being bullied at your current job and your boss is the one leading the pack. So when the recruiter will ask you questions about the current work relationships you can’t be brutally honest. But with some tact and diplomacy, you may tell that your current company culture doesn’t represent your values and beliefs, that you got to work with different types of personalities that have been very enriching, but you wish to work in a company where team spirit is valued and transparency and collaboration are praised. And if you’re honestly searching for this in your future job, there are very high chances that you’ll get it. 

Have an interview coming up or decided it’s time for a change?  Book time with me to discuss a Career Growth Plan.

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