Truth and Consequences in an Interview

Posted on: February 9th, 2016 by
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Are you truthful or deceptive while interviewing? Only you and your conscience can answer that question… and anyone else who knows the real answer!

Some things can be verified while others cannot, so be careful how you respond to questions in an interview that research or references can make you look like a liar. Never shade the truth or position yourself in a better light that can be contradicted by a past boss or co-worker. You’ll be seen as unreliable at best and deceitful at worst.

What about HALF-TRUTHS? Well, it depends. There’s a big difference between saying “I was the leader of a group that saved $1 million through continuous improvement” versus saying “Our team saved a million dollars while my individual contribution was to lead the implementation of the continuous improvement process”. An experienced interviewer will easily find the first example faulty with a few insightful questions. The second example is factual and puts you in a favorable light as the implementer of a successful continuous improvement process that can be transferred to the new organization.

It’s like completing your taxes: Some things are open to interpretation: If an item is investigated by the IRS and found to be taxable, with a penalty attached to it, then be extremely conservative in your interpretation. On the other hand, if an item is investigated and there is no penalty, but just pay the taxes owed, then the interpretation can be more liberal.

Here is another real life example: I was putting an acquisition team together. One candidate’s resume said that he was part of an acquisition team with another corporation. During the interview I found that, yes, he was part of the team: He got the coffee, set up the room, scheduled meetings and took notes. The mismatch between his puffed-up resume and his real experiences were too great to trust. He might have gotten the open job if he was more honest. He was just not honest enough.

Whenever a “team” of people achieves the results, ALWAYS recognize the group effort, while focusing on your individual contribution to the “team”. In that way you get double the value: You’re seen as a team player and a major contributor to those results as an individual. The two should never be separated. Why? Because every hiring manager knows that a single individual is seldom responsible for a major result. The real questions are:
What part did you play?
How were the results achieved?
What was the outcome? …and most importantly

During the interview, your job is to respond to questions in a way that the hiring manager sees you as the answer to achieving his objectives.

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