This post is not about lying on your resume. Apparently, you’ve already mastered that skill.
Honesty is always the best policy; except for when it isn’t. This post is about all the other things you might as well lie about during the interview process. Protect yourself at all times!
If You Ever Plan on Leaving the Company
Employers like to say they’re “team players” with a “welcoming environment” who “encourage growth and development” on the job boards.
In reality, this translates into they expect you to work for their company until retirement, or until they terminate you, whichever comes first.
On average, Millennials will switch jobs between five to seven times during their careers. Most companies would rather hire an average employee that is guaranteed to never quit than a great employee that might move on to a competitor before death.
Back when I was naive enough to think employers were interested in investing in me as a person versus a line item, I thought talking about my hopes, dreams, and aspirations outside of work would show me as a well-rounded individual. I hoped these confessions would demonstrate I was an open-minded candidate with interests that didn’t terminate at the borders of my cubicle. I didn’t get many callbacks.
Conversely, when I switched to talking about my dedication to work or how I was willing to work 40, 50, or 60-hours without concern or consideration for work/life/balance and my family? I couldn’t stop the offers from coming in. Correlation is not causation but the choice is yours.
You Have Interests Outside of Work
Having interests outside of work is not the same as “conflicts of interest.” You should disclose all moral and legal conflicts of interest to your employer. For example, I tell every employer that I own a small business (Paychecks & Balances, LLC.) that helps millennials make money, save money, and get out of debt.
What I don’t talk about during interviews anymore is my interest in FIRE (Financial Independence / Retire Early). As I noted above, most employers won’t see an employee who is responsible with their personal finances. They see the threat of an employee that might leave in the next three to five years. Apparently, having a life after you clock out will make you look bad compared to the other candidate who is pledging to trade in their life for a job.
I wish we lived in a world where we openly talk about our personal interest with the men and women who will sign our bi-weekly checks. During the hiring phase, with rare exception, I have found this not to be the case. In other words, you might want to be honest without being open.
Your hiring panel is weeding through hundreds or thousands of potential candidates. You want to raise as few red-flags as possible. I have seen employers pass over great candidates because they “job hop,” which is code for this candidate seems more interested in their own personal development than our bottom line. Don’t get me wrong, I have found awesome employers who are supportive of me after I’m hired too.
Where You See Yourself in the Next Five Years
When employers ask, “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?” This is a trick question. I don’t even like asking this question as a Hiring Manager myself!
The only right response is “growing with the company.” Specifically, I like to do a variation of a great quote a mentor told me once, “Use your 20s to learn, your 30s to apply, and your 40s to teach, mentor, and pay it forward.” I adjust the timeframes as needed, so in this instance, I might say something to the effect of the following:
I’d use my first year to learn and master the expectations of the company. I would use years two through four to develop, grow, and hone my skills. Finally, I would hope I am in a position in the company to continue to develop myself and my peers, whether as a mentor or as a direct supervisor.
I have found this is an acceptable response that demonstrates my plans for growth with the company. It also shows that I’ve thought about the future, and in that future, I plan to be a long-term candidate with the company. For the record, I don’t mind doing meaningful work. The irony here is that few companies demonstrate half the interest in you over a 45 year career as they want you to fake during a 45 minute interview.
You’ll notice I don’t mention life outside of work in any of these examples. I believe those are discussions that can happen over time as I grow my trust with the company and they grow their trust in me. Trust building is a two-way street.
There is one exception: deal breakers. I like to discuss all deal breakers at or around the offer stage. For example, some candidates have explained that work from home or other factors are non-negotiable for the job offer. In this area, I respect their honesty and we have had some great negotiations as a result.
Here Are Some More Hot Topics to Consider Lying About During Your Next Interview
I don’t have all the answers. Luckily, we have a network of over 19,000 followers. I asked them what areas they lie about during their own interviews. Here is what they had to say:
An example would be working weekends or working long hours. I really don’t want to do that but it’s not something I feel comfortable saying especially during the interview stage because I don’t want to sound lazy or not a team player.
— MannVsMoney (@MannVsMoney) September 25, 2019
I’m not changing jobs for the same pay, I’d want more. Always looking for them to throw out a first number.
— ???? Dollar Revolution ???? (@dollarrev) September 25, 2019
Not for me specifically, but I know a lot of women won’t broach their wants to start a family because then certain hiring managers will start doing mental calculations about how much their gonna lose/spend
— Lexi Welch (@lexiskywalker) September 25, 2019
Get Our Newsletter!
Join our free email community to get our newsletter with actionable tips and interesting reads to help you navigate your finances and career.