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When Interviewing, Tell The Truth Intelligently


Among the most critical of interviewing skills is telling the truth intelligently.

The best way to explain what I mean by this statement is through a story. In an interview, Joe found himself caught telling a lie about the reason he left one of his previous jobs. He said he was laid off, but the truth was that he was fired. When the potential employer found out, Joe lost all chances of getting the job.

By honing your interviewing skills, you can learn to plan carefully what information to communicate and what is appropriate to withhold. After all, interviews last only a short time, and you want to be sure you leave the right impression and communicate the right message.

Here are just a few of the “telling the truth intelligently” pointers I give my Career Coaching clients in interviewing skills training.

  1. Don’t Criticize Or Blame
    Your current or former boss might well be a contemptible miscreant, but never criticize them in an interview. Employers will think, “How long before he/she starts criticizing me?”
  2. Keep Sensitive, Personal Details Private
    Sometimes, sharing parts of your private life can be a liability. For example, my client Jan moved across the country to rekindle a romance with an old high school flame she saw at her reunion. Her fear was employers would think she’s flighty. My coaching to Jan was not to create problems where there are none. It didn’t hurt the employer to not know her motivation. She could simply say, “I used to live here, I like the city, and I decided to move back.” It’s all true. Employers will never guess the rest unless you tell.
  3. Put The Best Spin On The Facts
    Ron quit his job and spent a relaxing summer at the beach, do volunteer work, and plan his next move. He feared employers would think he wasn’t a dedicated worker. I coached Ron to tell employers he had been working very hard, decided to take time off to plan his next career move, and had some great experiences with his volunteer work along the way. Now, he’s focused and ready for work – again, no lies, and no need to mention the beach.
  4. Tell The Truth Powerfully
    Sometimes, there’s no good way out. You can’t avoid truths about being fired from a previous job, a prior legal issue, etc. Still, even the most negative blotch on your resume can be transformed into a “lesson you learned.” There’s always a spin consistent with the truth.
  5. Rehearse, Rehearse, and Then Rehearse Some More
    Many people spend untold hours drafting and redrafting their resumes to give just the right impression, but just wing it in job interviews! Don’t make this mistake. Determine what you want employers to know about you and how you will present that information. Anticipate any sensitive issues you might have, and prepare exactly how you will respond. And be ready for salary discussions. There will be times that a question will catch you off guard in an interview. Just make sure you don’t get burned by the same question twice.