Balanced Perspectives - Honesty in the Interview

This is the second most popular post from the first six months of this year and a topic that gets brought up a lot between job seekers and recruiters. Unfortunately, dishonesty can run rampant on both sides. I would love to hear your thoughts.

I may be winding down this series as I believe I’ve played out most of the typical scenarios that happen in a recruitment situation.  If you have one I haven’t done, please let me know and I’ll get it added before moving on to something else.
 
Today’s topic is about being truthful in the interview.  Each side of the interview conversation has a decision to make on whether or not they want to bend the truth a little should it favor their position.  While I am an advocate of complete honesty, I can see where it may not always be the easy route.
 
Job Seekers:  Obviously, job seekers can lie about their work history, things they have done and education they have obtained.  In a world where references are hardly checked (at least not thoroughly checked), it’s easy to get away with a little white lie here and there. You may even get away with it.  Where I see an opportunity to lie and can honestly understand why someone might chose to do so is in cases of bad backgrounds that may hinder you from getting a job even though those things happened many years ago and you are a different person now.  Unfortunately, our world holds on to the bad and so something in your background that happened 20 years ago could come back to haunt you – just ask a politician.
 
Recruiters:  Where do recruiters have the opportunity to lie?  Company culture and employee morale come to my mind.  Recruiters need to be positive about the company and can withhold information about the fact that the senior leaders are complete jerks and that the recruiter themselves are looking for something new.  This one can be really tricky for the recruiter.  They have a job to do, they can not bash their own company to be successful, yet when they hire someone and that person uncovers all kinds of awfulness, they often feel bad for being the person who brought them on board without sharing the whole truth.

 
So what can both sides do?  I still say – be honest.  I’ve mentioned a million times that I am a firm believer (and quite good at) framing information in a way so that others can hear it.  This is not spin – it’s the truth in words that make it easier for the other person to hear and be ok with.
 
For the job seeker who has the bad background from so many years ago don’t just explain the background.  Explain what you’ve done since, who you’ve become and what you’ve learned.  Explain how if you 40 year old you could talk to 20 year old you those things would have never happened.  Explain how you have become who you are, a better person, because of those things.  As for the other lies candidates can tell -about work history, projects you’ve worked on or education - just don’t do it.
 
For recruiters sharing information about culture and leadership is important for the candidate not just so they know, but so they know they can work within it.  Why make a hire who will leave in three weeks because they can not take the leadership style?  Framing information around why they are jerks, rather than saying they are jerks is being completely truthful without bashing.  For example, while doing some hiring for a client a few months back I explained to candidates that she liked to be completely aware of everything going on.  She asks lots of questions and those questions were not intended to doubt your ability to do your job, but to ensure she was completely aware of all the events happening in her department as she had to answer to the board.  Some people can not work in an environment like that, however some need exactly that type of leader.  I  wanted to say it in a way people could hear it and draw there own conclusions about if that type of leader was someone they could work with.  Hopefully that makes sense.
 
So the just of the story is one I’ve shared many times and will preach until my dying day.  Always be honest.  There is ALWAYS, always a way to frame information, even negative information, in a way that it’s easier to digest and understand and is not tainted by pre-conceived notions.
 
Don’t believe me?  Test me.  Throw some information out there and I’ll see if I can’t frame it in a way that it’s easy for others to hear.  Leave it in the comments below…

To read the original article, please click here.

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