“Is it ever OK to lie in a job interview?”

Hays director Lisa Morris:

We don’t recommend lying in a job interview.

You run the risk of being caught out later, which would be embarrassing and might damage your professional relationships.

Workplaces function best when people are honest because of the trust it builds among employees.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to tell the interviewer all the details about why you’re looking for a new role.

Avoid focusing on what you dislike about your current role or workplace.

If asked about why you’re looking to leave, frame your response in a way that demonstrates your willingness to develop your career and your long-term goals.

Perhaps you could speak about how you’re looking to use particular skills to benefit an employer, for instance, or would like to return to a workplace with a certain type of culture that brings out the best in you.

For example, “I’ve learned a great deal from my current employer, but I’m keen to work in a more collaborative environment where I can apply my skills to achieve more success. Having read the job description, I believe I will be able to provide genuine value in X, Y, and Z areas here.”

Hays’ Lisa Morris says more people are often looking for jobs at the start of the year. Picture: AAP Image/Matt Loxton
Hays’ Lisa Morris says more people are often looking for jobs at the start of the year. Picture: AAP Image/Matt Loxton

Sullivan Consulting managing director Andrew Sullivan:

I would never advise lying in a job interview as the interview is a chance to ensure a good fit for both the employer and candidate. Lying undermines that relationship-building process. Lying is also extremely risky as if you are found out to be lying it may cause irreparable damage to the trust your employer has in you.

Anticipate what questions may come up during the interview and prepare answers which are truthful but also reflect well on you.

An answer is only difficult when you haven’t prepared for it!

Sullivan Consulting’s Andrew Sullivan says hospitality and administration roles are attracting lots of applicants. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
Sullivan Consulting’s Andrew Sullivan says hospitality and administration roles are attracting lots of applicants. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

Hender Consulting executive consultant Justin Hinora:

Lying in an interview can be fraught with danger.

If your scaffolding of lies doesn’t correlate with reference checking, other thorough due diligence conducted, or the interviewer’s detailed knowledge of the business and its stakeholders, then it could backfire dramatically and will reflect poorly on you.

It is okay to say things like “my values don’t align with the direction of the business” (instead of giving the exact reason you decided to leave your last employer).

There is nothing wrong with that. But avoid simply dumping on your employer, that is not good form either.

Hender Consulting’s Justin Hinora says many employers are blessed with choice. Picture: Mike Burton
Hender Consulting’s Justin Hinora says many employers are blessed with choice. Picture: Mike Burton

Stillwell Management Consultants head of organizational psychology consulting Alexandra Rosser:

It is best not to lie in a job interview as in most situations, the truth will eventually emerge anyway and where you might be compelled to lie, there is usually a way of presenting that information in an honest, factual, and concise manner that does not reduce your desirability as an employee.

For example, if you left your previous employer because you disagree with their morals, you could simply say that you felt there was a difference in organizational values and your own values and you are seeking to work in a culture that feels like a closer fit.

You should not criticize your current employer, particularly in an emotional fashion.

Stillwell Management Consultant’s Alexandra Rosser says applicant volumes vary from industry to industry. Picture: Mike BurtonI would suggest focusing more on the “pull factors” of the role and organization in which you want to work than the “push factors” causing you to leave your current role.

Stillwell Management Consultant’s Alexandra Rosser says applicant volumes vary from industry to industry. Picture: Mike Burton