Lies in an Interview – will one little lie hurt

Picture this scenario: you’re scanning the job ads and suddenly spot a vacancy you know you’d be perfect for. It’s the ideal role and a career move you’ve been hoping to make for some time.

While you know you’re capable of doing the job, there’s a slight problem – you don’t quite meet all of the selection criteria, or lack certain qualifications the employer is looking for.

But the job is so enticing you end up applying for it anyway, and are lucky enough to be called in for an interview. When it comes to those gaps in your resume or CV, this interview is now crunch time.

So what do you do? Is it OK to lie in an interview, perhaps even just ‘one little lie’?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is quite complex. While you should always be truthful, particularly with someone who is your potential new boss, experts say there is some scope for telling “white lies” – provided you can back them up with some reality sooner rather than later.

An example of this might be the need to take a refresher course in a particular skill or software application. Let’s say that during the interview you’re asked whether you can put together a professional presentation on Microsoft PowerPoint, a requirement of the role you’re applying for. The trouble is you haven’t used PowerPoint for a number of years, and as such you can’t exactly call yourself a pro. But is it OK to tell a little white lie by confirming that you can indeed put together a professional presentation using PowerPoint? The answer is yes, on the condition that you retrain or relearn the software before you start in the job. This is an example of “stretching” your resume or CV – meaning that you can easily and quickly get yourself up to speed in certain areas. Keep in mind this type of “stretching” obviously only applies to small gaps in your CV. It’s no good “stretching” your CV or resume to say you can drive a forklift if you’ve only got a car license!

Another example where it’s acceptable to tell “little white lies” is where you take certain experiences and duties in your former jobs and transfer them to suit the role you’re being interviewed for.

You might be a personal assistant who wants to work in graphic design. During your time as a PA, you might have created brochures, invitations, flyers or posters – all relevant experience for that dream job in graphic design. To complement these existing, transferable skills, you could also commit during the interview to undertake further study or online courses to boost your experience and qualifications.

The flipside to this “upskilling” might be certain omissions from your CV or resume if you think you’ll appear over-qualified for the new job you’re being interviewed. This type of “omission” might be considered a little lie, but it could be acceptable if you really want the job you’re being interviewed for.

A warning, however: It is absolutely crucial that you remain as close to the truth of your experience and work history as possible. Big lies will catch up with you, and potentially cause long-term damage to your reputation and future employability.

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