Uncategorized Jan 18, 2021

Let’s talk about truth in job interviews. There are two sides to the fence on this topic - the interview-er and the interview-ee. Both want to make the best decision. Both don’t want to be fooled, conned or lied to. Both have their own goals. Both want to get it right.

I’ve spend the past 19 years or so training professionals who conduct interviews to help them build skills and awareness to uncover more truthful and more useful information - in employment interviews and in ANY other type of interview. I’ve also worked with plenty of interviewees who are trying to land their dream job and sometimes land just ANY job that will help pay the bills.

I’ve have a truckload of skills, tips and tools for people on both sides of the fence, but today I wanted to comment on an article I read in the Daily Telegraph yesterday by the founder of Small Business Women Australia, Amanda Rose. Firstly, great work Amanda writing an article that highlights some of the challenges that people face in job interviews. Well done on mentioning some of the additional factors that women need to consider that typically don’t even cross men’s minds.

I liked your advice about not having to tell interviewers if you have kids, how old you are or if you are married if they ask. And yes, some questions are most certainly illegal to ask in an interview - which of course is a good thing. It’s a shame that we still have to worry about people asking inappropriate questions - but we do.

I also agree that interviewees are not obliged to reveal to interviewers anything too personal that is not directly related to the job. I concur that interviewers will sometimes use some clever and tricky questions to find out more about a candidates personal situation.

But, here’s the thing I think we should be just a little careful with. Personally I’m not a fan of advising married women to take off their wedding ring for an interview to pretend they are not married. I understand where you are going with this Amanda, I just think we need to be careful with that advice. And working to dodge or reject questions could be a risky strategy at times.

Good interviewers are often endeavouring to scratch deeper than surface level to get to know the candidate and assess how they would fit into the culture of an organisation. This is important on both sides of the fence. Everyone is trying to meet their needs and make a good choice.

So there can be a fine line in trying to figure out whether an interviewer is prying in order to rule someone out for being married or having kids or some other bias they may have, or genuinely trying to build a more holistic picture of a person to make the best decision for all. I agree with Amanda that it’s perfectly OK to question a question or stand up for yourself if it’s clear someone is asking questions that are inappropriate. 

The problem is, on either side of the fence, once you start hiding the truth you are activating a different part of your brain. You have now become what I label as a 'deceptive person trying to look truthful'. Now you begin to play in the territory of having to remember what you have said that could contradict your last or next conversation.

Every time you lie or hide the truth you are putting extra cognitive and emotional stress and pressure on yourself and that can sometimes (often) backfire.

Behaviour from a candidate who is working to dodge questions might be misread and all of a sudden the interviewer has red flags against the candidates honesty in general.

EVERYBODY has biases operating at a much greater extent than they realize. You make decisions about other people very quickly based on factors you know about and reasons you may be unaware of. Being less than authentic and trying to hide the truth can often lead to unnecessary stress.

Here are 3 things I tell people I help who are looking for the next job or career opportunity.

  • APPLY FOR JOBS you will SHINE in

Sure I know that if you are just out to pay the bills and anything will do right now, that you may not feel like you will shine in all jobs. Setting your sights high and getting some guidance on how to get the job that will pay the bills PLUS being a job you will shine in, is a much better strategy in my books. When your passion for the role you are applying for shines through and you know you are competent, you won’t need to hide anything.

  • STAND OUT for your HONESTY.

Recruiters and hiring managers know that around 40% of people they interview are hiding or twisting the truth in some way and some people even go as far as to completely fabricate qualifications. If you demonstrate complete transparency, truthfulness and authenticity from the start, you will stand out from the crowd and be a breath of fresh air. If someone judges you for being married or having kids, then you probably don’t want to work there anyway.

  • KNOW your VALUE

When you are confident that you will add value to an organisation and you have a strong belief and self-worth, that confidence will show through in your job application and the interview. If you know you can juggle 10 balls in the air at once, including dropping kids of to school or sport, navigating life’s challenges and alternating between working from home and the office - then be proud of that. Don't feel you have to shy away from the truth about you and your life. Show your humanness.

If you apply for jobs that you know you will shine in, you are open and honest, you have strong self-worth and know you will be a great asset to the organisation, then shout it from the roof tops.
Confidence and honesty are winning traits, don’t be afraid to use both.

You may at times come across a crappy interviewer who asks crappy questions (and trust me, there are plenty out there), but I don’t think you should have to hide or twist the truth about your marital status, or other such things, to land the job. In my experience, many interviewers have undergone little or no quality interviewing training (or are overdue for a refresher), so some of the time they are following a script, winging it or oblivious to what they are getting wrong.

If you get the above 3 points right and the employer still doesn’t choose you for a job you want, stay strong and move on. If this happens a number of times, consider reaching out for some help or advice for your next application and interview.

You may benefit from working with a mentor or a coach to guide you and help build your confidence. There may be an opportunity to improve your networking skills and connect with more people in the field you want to work in to get the results you seek. Always be growing and believe in yourself.

Overall, I believe HONESTY is the best policy - on both sides of the fence.

As a candidate, you don’t want to be mislead and discover the job or the company is a long way from what you thought it was after week two. And, as a recruiter, hiring manger or business owner, you don’t want to be mislead only to discover the person you thought you were hiring is a long way from who you thought they were.

STAND OUT HONESTY is the way to go in 2021 and beyond. Get in touch with those 3 points I mentioned and go and SHINE. Ladies, I say proudly wear your wedding ring to the job interview, know your worth and go after what you want and deserve.


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