We’re brought up believing that lies are terrible and if we tell them, our nose will grow so long that everyone will know immediately we’re not being honest.
It’s a common piece of advice never to lie on a CV, especially not in an interview. But perhaps that advice isn’t entirely useful…
“There are definitely some lies that you will likely have to tell in order to get hired for a new job”, he said.
But Harris is clear to point out this does not include lying about your abilities, saying: “There’s no point in being hired for a job you can’t actually do.”
It’s futile to lie about your qualifications or where you’ve worked, because this information will eventually come out to bite you on the bottom, but there are some instances in which being, shall we say, economical with the truth might put you at an advantage.
1. Lying by omission.
It’s OK to leave out some positions from your CV. If you left a job because of ‘creative differences’ with a past boss, or you snuck off after snogging a co-worker at a Christmas party, it might not be something you want to share with the world. “A resume doesn’t have to be a comprehensive list of everything you’ve done. It’s a marketing tool for the job you want. So just list the relevant, positive experiences,” says Harris.
2. Exaggerating your hobbies
Sure, we all know you spend your weekends shrouded in a duvet, dribbling Chinese food down your front and waiting for that ‘the next episode will start in 15 seconds’ notice on your laptop (it sometimes feels like such a long wait), but this is not what a prospective employer wants to hear. It helps to list interests that could relate to the job in question. It's not terrible to say “In my spare time I’m a passionate philanthropist and a keen bookworm” Harris says: “Does the company page include photos of the team on charity mountain bike rides? If so, your include mountain biking and charity fund raising.”
3. Inventing your greatest weakness
It’s perhaps a little too far to say: ‘My greatest weakness is working too hard, and being too awesome for my own good’, but it’s also not a good idea to tell the interviewer your actual greatest weakness. “Everyone lies when answering this question. That’s how the game is played,” says Harris. The best thing to do here is to say a weakness that doesn’t affect your ability to do a good job. Harris says “this shows that you are self-aware and proactive”
So it’s OK to tell a few porkies. But, in the event that you do get caught in a downward lie spiral, Harris says the best thing to do is apologise:
“Explain that you were so passionate for the role that you stretched the truth in order to get the chance to prove what you could really do on the job.”
Words: Harriet Hall