The Job Interview and the Little White Lie

The Job Interview and the Little White Lie

 If you say you haven’t told one…that would be it right there.

 Little white lies are not necessarily a bad thing. In some situations, a little white lie could be humane. For example, let’s  say your best friend just spent every last penny of her savings on a non-returnable designer dress.  She asks you “isn’t this dress gorgeous?”  What would be the point in telling her the dress should have gone down with the Titanic?

 Let’s turn to the job interview. There are times when the little white lie is more humane to your career than stumbling around the truth.  Let’s take the question “what did you do during the 3 months you were unemployed?”  It’s okay to say that while you spent much of your time job searching, you also spent some valuable time with family. It may be best to leave out the part about sleeping 15 hours a day, winning the local hot-dog eating contest, and inventing new curse words to describe your ex-boss.

 The point is that while honesty is always the best policy; it may be a better career strategy to accentuate the positive and keep the newly created curse words to yourself.

 The little white lie could be your most colorful ally during the job interview.

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Comment by Rob on March 5, 2013 at 2:22am

Hi Bonnie, this is an interesting point. When is a "version of the truth" acceptable? I think accentuating the positive is probably a good thing during an interview, especially if you are the candidate. However, the main problem is the degree to which you do this. Quickly, this technique can turn into outright exaggeration which is no good for anyone. I especially find when I interview salespeople its important to assess what is THEIR direct impact and what was in the context of the company. Often, they will tell me they were responsible for the bulk of revenues. Sometimes this is not just a white lie but complete baloney which can lead to some problems down the track if neither the interviewer or company as a whole spot it. 

Comment by Bonnie Brooks on March 5, 2013 at 7:03am

Everyone's truth is their own reality. If the person believes they were responsible for the bulk of the revenue - it is their truth. The recruiter is often put in the position of deciphering what is the candidates truth and what is fact; which can make the difference between a good recruiter and a great one. I believe there are several ways to do this. One is to determine by the bulk of the interview if the candidates entire reality seems disproportionate to their experience, or by calling their references and getting further opinion. Another is to delve deeper behind the numbers. For example, asking the candidate to tell you more about their outstanding sales record - about awards won, etc. Often someone knowingly being untruthful will reveal themselves when asked to explain and it's up to the recruiter to see the honest truth or knowing lie and that's a tough call indeed.

I appreciate your points - gave me some food for thought!  Thanks, Rob.


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