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How to Keep The Truth From Torpedoing Your Job Interview

You really Don't feel comfortable lying in an interview, right?  Lying isn't right, and it changes the conversation imperceptibly. The interviewer will usually sense that something isn't right, and you'll be afraid they'll catch you in a lie.  But what are you to do about that damaging bit of information?  

The answer?  Tell the truth intelligently.  

Always remember that you are marketing yourself in a job interview.  These are not therapy sessions to tell all your dark secrets, nor are  they a court of law where you swear to tell the whole truth.

Plan what you'd like to get across. What will make you look good?  What is better left unsaid? Be well rehearsed so that you won't forget common sense during a stressful interview.

OK, maybe your former boss is a snarling, sniveling, contemptible miscreant, but never criticize him/her.  Surely, the prospective employer will wonder, "How long before you start criticizing me?"

When we share about ourselves, it often creates bonds with others.  Inappropriate sharing, however, can be disastrous.  A woman named Julie was moving back to her hometown to be with an old boyfriend she encountered at their 20th high school reunion.  She was afraid the employer would think she was flighty.  

The solution was easy.  She should keep this to herself.  All she had to say was, "I grew up here, I always liked it here, and I'm moving back."  She told no lies, and there was no reason to mention anything about her boyfriend.  The employer would never guess--unless Julie told on herself.

After Bill lost his job, he hung out at the beach for a few weeks, did some volunteer work, and thought about what to do next.  He was afraid that employers would think he is lazy.  I told Bill to say that he had been working hard, and took a little time off to contemplate his next career move.  During that time, he had done some great work with a nonprofit organization and learned a lot. Now, he was really excited about getting back to work.  It was all true--he just didn't talk about  the beach.

Henry had an ugly secret.  He had spent two years in prison for dealing drugs.  We coached him to tell the truth as powerfully as he could.  Henry started the interview saying, "I need to tell you something--and if you Don't want to talk further, I will understand.  I was arrested for selling drugs, and spent time in prison for that.  But I used my time in prison to improve myself.  I studied, I prayed, and refocused my life.  I also managed to keep my family together, and today, we're closer than we've ever been.

I learned the consequences of being unethical, and I need to be sure that I Don't stray again.  I have a question, "Would any part of this work involve illegal activity?  If so, I have to withdraw.  If not, you have to decide whether you're willing to overlook my past.  I'm sorry for what I did, but I can't change it."

Even really negative parts of your past can be transformed by talking about a lesson learned.

you've spent lots of hours crafting your resume, right?  Now, be sure you also put in the time so you're prepared for your job interview.  Never just "wing it" if the interview is important to you.  

Anticipate issues that might cause you trouble, and practice your response.  Should you flub a question in an interview, make sure you're ready for that question the next time.
Want an almost unfair advantage in your next interview?  Let me help you prepare--in person or by phone.    

Steve Frederick
Frederick Career Services 
1on1 coaching 
that Transforms Careers


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