Honesty in Interviews: Keeping a Balance

It can be tempting to fluff yourself up a little in front of your interviewers in order to get the job you want, but will telling little white lies come back to haunt you later on?
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The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Editorial Intern, gradsingapore
Honesty in Interviews: Keeping a Balance

Being interviewed can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re new to it. Not only do you need to be mindful of your appearance and body language, but what you say really, really matters. Even one wrong sentence or poorly crafted response can be the difference between getting the job and rejection.

But in a bid to show the best version of yourself in front of the interviewers, you might be tempted to make yourself seem better than you actually are, whether you claim to be a great team player or have some skill in Photoshop. But would such a gamble pay off for you in the long run?

Small lies, big consequences

The obvious answer is that you shouldn’t lie during your interview for many reasons. On top of it being unethical, doing so can and will eventually catch up to you. After all, when you lie, you don’t have any actual memories to fall back on, and more often than not you have to keep lying to continue the charade, which can make things difficult for you to maintain in the long run, especially since the interviewer will generally take your lie as the truth.

In addition, you’re also inadvertently making things harder for yourself by giving the company false expectations of you. This in turn will make upkeeping your job performance difficult as well if you land the job.

For example, say that you claim in your resume that you’re fluent in Korean, which seems like an inconsequential skill to have. The lie is believed, you’re hired without incident and you think that you’ve gotten away with it. That is, until one day, your supervisor cheerily tells you that you’ll be in charge of a merger project with a Korean company.

Depending on the severity of the lie, the consequences after getting caught can lead to you getting fired, but not without your reputation and credibility being tarnished. Worse, you’ll likely be blacklisted by the company and others within the industry you're in. After all, if you're willing to be dishonest about this, there's no telling what other issues they may run into if they hire you.

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How honest is too honest?

At the same time, there’s a difference between being honest and being too honest. Although it’s important to come across as authentic, there’s a fine line between being honest and accurate and divulging every detail about you just because it’s the truth.

After all, as friendly and cordial as your interviewers may be, this is still a professional interview, and they aren’t the people to info-dump to about any irrelevant or even damaging information about yourself if you aren’t careful.

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A matter of nuance and judgement

So what should you do? Lie and run the risk of ruining your credibility; go overboard with your honesty and you might end up saying something you shouldn’t.

Overall, honesty is still the best policy, but you should also be tactful about how you tell the truth. Be truthful about your background and skills, but present it in a positive light. At the same time, be aware of what you plan to say when answering questions, and be sure that any response you provide is relevant to the job you’re applying for.

That being said, if the topic turns to aspects of your personal life, a few white lies or omissions may be permissible. For example, when asked about your hobbies, it’s best if you pick out hobbies that are both appealing to the company and you’re actually interested in.

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As you keep attending job interviews, you'll come to find that there’s a fine line between showing your best self and obscuring the truth. As long as you plan ahead and stick to the facts, you generally won’t go wrong.