June 18, 2018

Jobseekers: Sign In | Sign Up Recruiters

Career Advice

Share this article:
Bookmark and Share

Honesty in Interviewing

How honest should you be when youíre interviewing? Unequivocally one hundred percent honest. But donít confuse honesty with showing all your cards or not utilizing the power of presentation. Nor does honesty mean volunteering your dark secrets Ė perceived or otherwise - from the moment you walk through the door.

For far too many candidates, honesty is one extreme or the other. Either the candidate throws everything out there too early and unnecessarily or hides it because heís defensive about whatever it is he doesnít want to be honest about. Either way, it only causes trouble. Finding your perfect job does not mean giving all your power to the interviewing company.

This isnít a process where everything you say and do screams "Hire me, hire me, hire me!" When you confess to your interviewer, or conversely, hide as much as you can, thatís what youíre thinking and thatís the message youíre conveying. Consequently, the interview never goes as smoothly as it otherwise might.

If thereís something in your employment history thatís caused you problems in the past, thereís no reason to blurt it out. Youíll get no recognition or appreciation for that. In fact, the only thing youíll get in return isÖ..dropped from consideration. Instead, examine the circumstances under which those problems took place and ask questions to make sure those conditions arenít present in the job for which youíre interviewing. If they are, gracefully decline to continue the process.

Being terminated, returning to the corporate world after self employment, and being unemployed for several months are just three instances that put candidates unnecessarily on the defensive. Flip it. Find the positive. What did you learn from being fired? What are your positive characteristics aside from what happened to cause the termination? And by the way, are you absolutely sure the termination was your fault? If it wasnít, donít say that outright! The phrasing of your presentation can convey the same meaning.

Recently a client asked me to critique his resume and cover letter. Theyíd just been done by a professional firm, and he wasnít comfortable with the result. He lives in one state and is planning on moving to another. They advised him to omit the locations of his previous jobs saying "the job is about you, not the location."

They also advised him to get both a P.O. box and a phone number in his targeted city, then to enlist forwarding services. My question was, what happens when a prospective employer wants him to come in for an interview tomorrowÖ..because they think he lives only a few miles away? Thereís a very easy way not to have the distance work against you so that you can search within an honest framework, but thatís another column.

Then, as if those two instances of duplicity werenít enough, they tucked his self-employment time under a previous job.

Why walk into an interview crossing your fingers that they donít find something out? How relaxed can you possibly be under those circumstances? And if they hire you and then discover the truth, youíre tainted, and everything else you do or say from that point on is suspect.

Thereís one hard and fast rule that overrides any instance where you havenít had to Ė or felt a reason to Ė provide what could be considered extraneous information. When you are asked a direct question, one usually designed to clarify, answer it directly, honestly and with a smile. Donít lose your composure or get defensive. Handle it gracefully. Most situations arenít the big deal so many candidates perceive them to be.

Keep the power within yourself. To find your perfect job, you need to know what youíre looking for. Your questions are designed to elicit that information, while your answers are designed to sell yourself, even as youíre processing what youíre learning. Remember, you have the power to make a choice too.

- Judi Perkins

Judi was a search consultant for 20 years in the contingency and retained markets. She now gives job seekers the unique understanding and insight into the psychology of the hiring process and teaches renegade ways of job seeking that bring results. The result is excitement and a rewarding job instead of increasing frustration and despair as the months continue to pass. . Sign up for her free newsletter at and ask your question for the latest free teleseminar at

Top of Page