I ™m not good at lying. OK, I can do the innocuous of course that dress looks great on you! But when it comes to serious lying, that's definitely not my forte. I wear my heart on my sleeve “ and sometimes my emotions live there too. Like an open book, you can pretty much tell what I ™m feeling at any given time.
Most of the time, this is a good thing. People know that they can trust my word. Sometimes it's not what they want to hear. But they know I ™m telling the truth.
This skill of mine is not always effective. For example, I would be a terrible contestant on Survivor “ and my inability to effectively lie is only one issue. First, I would be voted off right away simply because I would want to spend the first few days building an adequate shelter instead of hanging out on the beach like it was a vacation. If there was a lack of organization, I would step in and try to lead the tribe, another no-no if you want to stay in the game. Not to mention the whole issue of living outside. Yuck. But the ability to weave and maintain an intricate web of lies with a straight face would lead to my demise. I must not be smart enough to keep all the stories straight.
When you think about it, isn't interviewing for a job similar to lying? I can hear you disagreeing with me. Of course not! , I would never lie to get a job , It's more like acting, but that's not lying, per se . Okay, call it what you want, but face it “ there are times during an interview when we absolutely have to stretch the truth. We have to lie.
This is especially true when you're in lay-off land, searching for your next opportunity. At least it seems that way since we don't want to turn any chance down. Each interview could be a ticket to employment. So how is someone like me, little miss hard to keep a straight face , supposed to get through the interview process? I can be knocked on my side with the very first question, Tell me why you want to work here? Even just writing that question causes me to go all deer-in-the-headlights .
While I don't have a magic potion to make interviewing easy, I do have a little trick I learned while working in PR. In preparing for possible media calls and interviews, we prepared a Q&A Document “ sort of a script. It's actually quite brilliant. The goal was to write down all the possible questions that a reporter might ask the company. Even off-the-wall questions were OK. Then we had to prepare written answers to each question. At the top of the document we listed our talking points, those two or three key messages we wanted to tell about our company in relation to the story.
I ™ve adapted this same technique to prepare for job interviews. It's a great way to collect my thoughts before the interview and develop solid, truthful answers. Once I developed the first set of Q&A, I ™ve only had to tweak it for different interviews. I especially like the reminder of my key messages, listed at the top.
The best reason to use this tactic is that it helps me determine exactly how far I ™m willing to stretch the truth and it allows me to become comfortable with my answers. If I ™m not comfortable with these answers at home, I ™m certainly not going to do well during an interview.
For example, am I always willing to relocate for a job? Probably not. Yet my answer needs to leave room for the possibility without making promises that I can't keep, i.e. I would consider relocating . After all, I don't want to be eliminated before the interview starts. Once the discussions begin I may determine that the opportunity is indeed worth a move.
It's a fine line to walk between full-disclosure and flat-out lying, yet one that we have to walk as we pursue new opportunities. We just have to be comfortable with our answers.
Just for fun, I thought I ™d share what I would love to say during some interviews, but the fact that I want to be hired prohibits using these answers.
Fun Interview Answers
Q. Why do you want to work here?
A. Honestly, I have no idea except that my friend told me you were hiring and I heard you have a good vacation plan. By the way, how soon can I take my first vacation? Did I mention that I plan to work here a few months, then take off to find myself as I back-pack through Europe?
Q. Tell me about yourself.
A. Aside from being well-educated, I ™m cute and have an amazing sense of humor. I ™m sort of doing this career-thing until I decide what I really want to do with my life. Oh, and I enjoy critiquing people's fashion choices. By the way, that's a nice tie “ is it a clip-on?
Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?
A. I was kind of hoping we wouldn't have to discuss this right away since it's a bit awkward, but I want your job. Preferably sooner than five years; maybe within twelve months. Actually, what are your plans? Any idea when you might move on to your next job?
Q. Our corporate offices are out of state. Are you willing to relocate?
A. Oohh “ didn't see that coming. Depends; what state are we talking about? I ™m willing to move to a ski-resort town, or possibly Hawaii. But that also depends on how much additional money you ™ll pay me.
Q. Let's talk salary “ can you tell me where you were compensation-wise at your last job?
A. I can tell you, but I ™m not going to. Duh! Haven't you heard the phrase, he who talks money first loses ? Besides, from the looks of this old furniture in your office, I ™m pretty sure you can't afford me.
Q. Thanks for coming in; we ™ll get back to you in about a week. Do you have any questions for me?
A. What kind of gym membership do you offer? How's the food in the cafeteria? I smelled something coming in and it was less than pleasant. And thanks for humoring me by saying you ™ll call me back. Even though I know better.