The Unexpected Wisdom of Being Honest in a Job Interview

Pretending to be someone you're not--and getting a job under false pretenses--isn't worth it.

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When in a job interview, you should say whatever you think the interviewers want to hear, right? Suck up, even if you don’t really mean it, say whatever it takes to get the job. Right?

Wrong. You don’t want a job where you have to lie to get it. You really don’t. You’ll be miserable, and same for your boss and coworkers.

But, isn’t it a huge risk to speak your actual mind? Yes, but it's less of a risk than taking a job you aren’t suited for. As an example, a friend told me about a job interview she had recently. During the phone interview, she told them she was not interested in pursuing the job any further because the job required her to directly supervise 25 people covering four areas.

She told them the department needed to be broken into four groups. She would be happy to supervise the four group leaders, but not one massive, sprawling group.

She figured they would remove her from their list and she would never hear from them again. They were silent for a few weeks, but then called her back to report that they had taken her suggestions seriously and were thinking of reorganizing the department as she had suggested and would she like to come in for a face-to-face interview?

By not saying, “Oh yes, directly supervising 25 people has been a dream of mine for years,” but rather by showing that she understood the business, understood the implications of the organization, understood how to solve the problem and demonstrated that she was a confident leader, she got moved on to the next step.

I don’t know if they will eventually offer her the job, but I do know that if they do, it will be a job she wants, not one she had to lie to get.

Suzanne Lucas has nine years of human resources experience, most of which has been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.

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