Thursday, August 30, 2007

Job Interviewing 101

I remember when my older son was just learning to read and write and I found his name written boldly in pen on the white marble of our fireplace hearth.

“Did you do this?” I asked him, pointing to his name.

His big blue eyes looked boldly into mine. He shook his head “no.”

“Then who did?” I asked him.

His chubby little finger quickly pointed at his infant brother, who was happily sucking on his sock as his older brother tried to sell him down the river.

Of course, the written evidence was to the contrary, so my son spent some time scrubbing the fireplace and learning a valuable lesson not only about where and when to write his name, but the consequences of lying. (OK, so I took away “Barney” watching for a week, which was really more of a reward for me.)

After speaking with some hiring managers this week, I think a few of them are feeling like they’re dealing with some 5-year-old children at times who believe they can deny written evidence of their misdeeds.

Specifically, it’s becoming a chronic problem that job candidates lie on their resumes. They’re lying about their education, about their experience and even their references.

Now, while it’s true we try to put a positive spin on our skills and abilities in order to gain the attention of hiring managers, it’s also true that nothing will get you dumped faster from the interviewing process than lying. And, keep this in mind: if it doesn’t catch up with you now, it will later – just look at the former RadioShack CEO who was forced to resign after owning up to the fact that he never received the two degrees listed on his resume.

And, here’s what’s making the problem worse: Job candidates are lying about lying. A survey by DDI found that while 31 percent of hiring managers claim job seekers “misrepresent” their education, only 3 percent of potential employees agree. And though only 15 percent of job seekers admit to using a personal, non-work friend as a reference, 40 percent of hiring managers say it's happening. Almost 70 percent of the businesses surveyed by a professional organization say lying on resumes happens occasionally to frequently, in all kinds of companies.

So, here’s the deal: You’re smart enough to do Internet research on your blind date, your former girlfriend and whether Jamaica is nice this time of year. Do you honestly think a potential employer isn’t going to do a background check on you? Do you really believe that if you say you can fly the space shuttle that someone isn’t going to ask you to take it for a spin to make sure you really possess those skills?

All right, one last thing: nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) executives polled said sending a thank-you note following an interview can boost a job seeker’s chances, but at least half of applicants fail to do so.

The bottom line: Listen to your mothers. Write your thank-you notes and don’t lie. We know what we’re talking about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I lied about getting a college degree 10 years ago, and recently I applied for a job that required some high level security clearance. I was called by the recruiter to have him tell me I was eliminated from the pool of candidates because the lie was discovered in a routine background check. I feel like a fool, and worse, I killed my chances of getting a job in a field I love. If anyone can learn from this, I hope they see that lying is a stupid thing to do.