It pays to be honest in job interviews — even about the embarrassing parts of your resume

Question:

I made a mistake. It cost me my job. As a result, I’m on the job market after more than two decades working for one employer. I don’t know anything about interviewing and my resume looks like all I’ve ever done is work for this one company. What do I say when a prospective employer asks “Why are you looking for a new job now?”

Answer:

When you’re asked a direct and specific question in a job interview, answer it honestly. If you don’t, you won’t feel good about yourself. If a prospective employer checks your references after interviewing you, only to learn you hid an important truth, they generally won’t give you a follow-up chance to explain. If you get hired, and the truth later comes out, you lose your new employer’s trust and sour your working relationship.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to blurt out the full story any more than a single person has to tell a new suitor everything about their divorce on a first date. Thus, if you’re asked a general question such as, “What puts you in the job market?” or, “Why now?” you can answer generically and truthfully, “It was time for a change.” Interviewers can appreciate someone leaving a job after two decades.

As you know, I called you after getting your email, and heard the whole story. Since the recruitment division of my company regularly hires employees for employers, I’ll tell you what I heard when you told your story. You come across as an individual who made a mistake, didn’t try to hide it and clearly learned from it. In other words, if worst comes to worst and you have to divulge the full truth, you may still land a job.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” and  Regional Director of Training & Business Consulting for The Growth Company, an Avitus Group Company. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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