A while back, I wrote a popular post called, Resumes are SO Yesterday. I got a reader email from Tom recently about the post and something he wrote has fanned my fire a bit.
Tom noted that HR people feel that most people lie on their resumes and applications. How true! The interview dance begins with the recruiter trying to ask questions to trip up the applicant who is assumed to be lying. Many interviews are focused on finding the dirt first.
Here’s a CareerJournal.com article that sums up the problem nicely:
"People lie on their resumes. They lie on job applications. And they generally
get away with it — despite HR’s best efforts to derail the dishonest. But,
according to research that we conducted, simply reminding an interviewer about
the prevalence of lies may make a notable difference in that person’s efforts to
distinguish fiction from fact.
Although no one knows the exact proportion of job seekers who enhance their
personal work histories, estimates range from 40% to 70%."
The whole article is interesting and includes a study that failed to detect lies.
Yep, but what about that dance?
It takes two to tango! I think a lot of interviewers lie, too! They lie about the job, about the challenges, about the boss, about morale, about what it is like to work there. I can hear my colleagues now, "Well hold on, we might put things in a positive light, but we don’t lie."
I think this is the same response many applicants would have as well.
The dance can be somewhat jerky, with each party wanting to lead.
What would happen if you started a interview with the following statement?
"Let’s be honest here today. No really. I want to acknowledge that it can be a natural tendency for interviewers to over represent the positive aspects of the job and neglect mentioning the less attractive aspects of working for the company. Let’s also acknowledge that many candidates feel the need to stretch the truth a bit to paint themselves in the best possible light. As a result, many interviews never really get to the heart of the matter, which is whether candidate and the role are a good fit. So I will tell it like it is and I ask that you do the same. Let me start by sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly about this job…"
What do you think?
The area that is most difficult to discuss is dealing with a crummy boss. You can’t exactly tell an applicant that the hiring manager is a jerk that no one likes to work for. There is something slightly unprofessional and irresponsible about this. So what’s the answer? I think you can still describe the work environment in enough truths to get the point across.
Here are a few other topics that interviewers often fib about:
- Do you have a training program? Sure! We will make sure you get excellent training and support.
- Will I be eligible for a raise or bonus? Absolutely, we reward great performers.
- Is there opportunity for advancement? Yes, you will have many opportunities.
- We are dedicated to making this a great place to work!
- We ask people to work hard, but we also encourage a good work-life balance.
- Why did the person leave the job? They took a job in another industry.
I do a lot of interviewing for managers and try to tell them the good, the bad, and the ugly, in appropriate ways. Yeah, I am sure I have painted a few pigs sky blue too, but not so much recently. I think I can do even more to raise the realness of interviews…. I have not interviewed for a job in a while, but I think it is in my best interests to not sugar coat a thing. This is all about fit. How can I possible understand fit without valid information?