Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Five Steps to Acing Your Interview without Having to Lie
We've all been warned at some point: "Never lie in a job interview!"
But Peter Harris, editor-in-chief of the online job board Workopolis, says, "that's simply not realistic." Some half-truths, exaggerations, or white lies on your résumé, application, or in an interview are okay, he says.
I beg to disagree. Most jobs are simply not worth having to lie.
And if those half-truths, exaggerations, or white lies are discovered later, the job itself (not to mention future job prospects) could be at risk.
At Excel Math, we place a high value on integrity both on and off the job. We expect the people we hire to avoid half-truths, exaggerations, and white lies completely.
Here are five steps to acing your next interview while avoiding even a white lie.
Begin the interview with a confident handshake, look the interviewer in the eye, and smile.
Sit up straight, act interested, and show that you appreciate the opportunity to meet in person.
Your attitude will convey that you value the time the interviewer is graciously giving you. Avoid any semblance of a white lie or half truth such as:
Don't give in to half-truths or white lies.
1. The people at my last company were the best . . .
Although you don't want to bad-mouth your boss and coworkers, you also don't need to lie about them. If you had to overcome some obstacles and hurdles at your last job, be sure to share how you did that. Without mentioning office politics or taking sides, point out how you handled a complaining coworker or customer or motivated an employee to take on more responsibility.
For example, when one of my new hires came to me complaining about another worker in a different department, I asked her to go to him directly and let him know how she would like him to behave differently. Then, if things didn't change, we could talk about other steps she could take to find a solution. Simply complaining about someone won't make things improve. Much better to talk face to face when problems arise.
There's no need to make up things that are not true
2. I don't really have any weaknesses . . .
You don't need to make up a weakness if you are asked to share one. Simply explain that one of your weaknesses is something you're working to turn into a strength.
Then show how your attention to detail, for example, can take more time up front but resulted in cost savings when you found a mistake on the print job before it went to press.
You don't need to share every weakness you have.
Talk about a weakness that you've worked on improving. Share your story, explaining how you've grown and/or matured in the process. Or share a weakness you had in the past that you've managed to overcome.
Stay away from exaggerations and half-truths
3. I was way too overqualified to stick with my last job . . .
There's no need to make up work you didn't really do or to demean the job you actually held. Rather, talk about how you took advantage of your work situation to learn, grow, mentor others, create a more efficient procedure, or whatever you accomplished at your job.
If you took classes to get ahead in the workforce, mention that. Emphasize your dedication and integrity along with the skills you bring to the job.
Don't complain about your current or former working conditions, coworkers, boss, long hours, back-breaking work, low pay, or anything else you may have disliked. Instead, show that you were willing to roll up your sleeves and give your best to this job, just as you would do for any job you will hold in the future. If you received a commendation or salary increase or promotion as a result of your hard work, be sure to mention it.
Don't whine or complain
4. I'm applying for this job because my boss (or principal) is a micro-manager . . .
Instead of cataloging the ways your boss failed to manage well (even if they're true), describe how you were able to get along with a variety of personalities and expectations. Research the job and company (or school) thoroughly so you know the type of person they are hoping to hire. Think beforehand about the skills and benefits you could bring to the company and the position.
Be ready to share brief anecdotes about how you benefited your previous company, coworkers, vendors, clients, etc.
Put together a binder of accomplishments including letters of praise from your previous boss or principal, coworkers, parents, former students or vendors. Also include any awards or recognitions you have received at work as well as in the community.
And one question to avoid . . .
Do your homework before the interview.
5. Could you tell me about this company/school?
Do your homework in advance so you can skip this question completely. Talk with others at this company or school so you have some background knowledge before your interview.
Explain how you would fit in well with the organization and the position they have open, but there's no need for exaggerations or white lies. You may also want to express your interest in a future position that may not yet be posted.
Use the adjectives included in the position description to describe yourself, where they apply to you. Give specific examples of how you helped solve problems and find solutions at your previous jobs. Don't forget to include your volunteer work as well as your paid positions.
Ask informed questions about the position. FInd out what type of person they are looking to hire, what the job expectations encompass, and why the previous person left the position.
Conclude by thanking the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you. Follow up with a hand-written thank-you note (not an email).
Put your best foot forward.
Even if you're not selected for this particular position, see the interview as an opportunity, preparing you for future interviews.
As you hone your speaking skills and practice marketing yourself, you will be even better equipped to present a strong impression at your next interview.
Finding just the right job takes lots of hard work, determination and perseverance, but in the end, it's definitely worth it!
And if it doesn't turn out to be the ideal job you had imagined, it may be time to start the process once more.
Let us know how you prepare for an interview. Share your tips and suggestions in the comment box below.
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