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The Worse Thing That You Can Do at Interview

Interviews can be the stuff of nightmares.


You spill tomato ketchup on your tie from the hastily scoffed bacon sandwich, you get the interviewer’s name wrong on multiple occasions, you might even feel so under pressure that you forget the details of your biggest projects. Going “ummm” and pausing isn’t so impressive when you are in mid flow about your greatest achievements.


I guarantee that these moments and many, many others will happen in interviews during our lives. It is human nature, we make mistakes, we forget stuff, we do regretful things. If the employer wants to employ you, they will see past most of them.


However, there is one thing in particular that no employer can ignore, something that is frighteningly easy to do, but something that you will give sleepless night for weeks and months afterwards, especially if you get offered the job.


You tell a lie during the interview.

Of course you don’t go into the interview with a carefully fabricated story designed to bamboozle and fool them into giving you the job. You know that they will take up references and you know that you can be fired in the future if an aspect of your story turns out not to be true. Telling a lie in an interview is rarely calculated – it is the accidental lie that can turn into something far bigger. The thing is that one you tell an accidental lie, you either choose to own up immediately (and risk looking very silly), or you gently build on the lie and hope that no one will remember. Trust me, they will remember, and you will have to dig yourself out of a hole at some point in the future.


You simply can’t afford for that hole to get too deep.


Let me give you an example. You are discussing a key project, and you exaggerate your role a little. They do a little more digging, and it becomes clear that you can’t fill in the details of the story where you were not actually involved. Suspicion starts, and now the interview is about getting to the bottom of the misunderstanding rather than talking about what you actually did. Not a good place to be, but ever so easy to do.


The solution is pretty simple. You have to listen intently to how you are telling your story, and the moment that you feel the need to massage the facts a little, you have to catch yourself. Your story has to remain your story, not a piece of fanciful fiction. If you catch yourself straying from the truth, take a moment to pause and then get yourself back on track. When you are remembering what has happened in the (often distant) past, no one expects you to recount events like a machine gun. Take your time, take a breath and make sure that you are telling it like it was. Then there will be no issues.


You will never deliberately lie (I hope), but to an outsider, a lie is a lie. Try to avoid it.

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