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In working with professionals who are in all stages of coming, going, thinking of going, and already departed from jobs, I am often asked about honesty. The questions range from, “Should I really tell the truth to HR or my boss about why I’m leaving?” or, with folks who are interviewing, “Should I tell the truth about why I was laid off?” And finally, “When my boss asks how it’s going with a team project I’m in that’s a disaster, should I be honest?” Here’s one recent take on whether you should be honest in exit interviews , and I certainly have my own.
1. You Must Be Honest
HR managers and headhunters want confident and down to earth candidates. But recruiters can only determine whether you’re a good fit for the company when you’re completely honest. In regards to your performance, your experience, and your qualifications, you should always be honest – otherwise, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot.
Explain that your gift for critical reflection makes you a perfect executive. Tell your interviewer where your leadership skills lie and reinforce your argument with concrete examples. You should also indicate your level of leadership experience with honesty.
There’s a big difference between having led a department, or a team that only consisted of three interns. Be sincere – even leading a small team has given you some experience, and it’s better to tell the truth than to fabricate.
2. It’s Better to Fib
In a job interview, it’s in your best interest to be honest about your professional experience, your qualifications, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. However, as soon as your interviewer begins to ask questions about your private life, you should be very cautious with your answers. Here, too much honesty can seriously affect your chances to get the position.
3.Why are you looking for a new position?
Suppose you’re asked why you want to leave your current employer. When you mercilessly begin to complain and whine about your shamefully small paycheck, your incompetent management, and your awful working conditions, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Consider an alternative response: you’ve exhausted all possibilities for further development at your current job, and so you’re looking for new challenges. Maybe you need a professional change of direction. But in any case, you should leave private and personal reasons aside.
4.What kind of hobbies do you enjoy?
Hobbies show recruiters and headhunters what your passions are. Are you a team player? Are you dedicated? Pay attention that your hobbies don’t define or pigeonhole you. You should avoid detailing your passion for bungee jumping or mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Why?
Your interviewer might decide that you’re a liability, or that you could hurt yourself and take months of sick leave. In addition, this might lead your interviewer to assume that you’re a huge risk taker. For a CFO, this isn’t always an ideal trait.
5. Are you planning on starting a family?
Especially for women in their 30s, this question is very likely to be asked, even though HR managers in the US aren’t technically allowed to. Don’t let a question like this faze or upset you. Politely ask how this question relates to your skills and qualifications – then change the subject discreetly.
Your desire to have children, your political views, your religious affiliations – none of these belong in a job interview. Consider inappropriate questions like this, and prepare some short answers in advance. If in doubt, a little white lie is allowed.
6. Any other questions?
Certainly, a few questions must be on your mind – but some of them shouldn’t be asked in one of your first job interviews. Candidates that ask too eagerly about the number of vacation days never make a good impression. Instead, ask about the company’s options for further education and training – this signals your motivation and readiness to learn.