While lying on a job interview is a bad idea, that doesn’t mean the Job Interview Police will come after you with handcuffs and an electric prod if you don’t reveal every little snippet of info related to your work history. Contrary to popular belief, a job interview is not an interrogation. It’s more like a first date. If you were on a first date, you wouldn’t chatter about the time you spent in the psych hospital because of your breakdown after your stalker ex-boyfriend came after you with a serving fork, would you? Hope not.
By the same token, don’t talk about the stuff the employer doesn’t need (or necessarily want) to hear in an interview, either. Here are a few tidbits to keep to yourself:
- Your termination from your last job as the result of your calling your boss a moron on your Facebook page. Yes, people still actually do that. Don’t be one of them. And if you were terminated for something stupid you did, or something stupid they did, your prospective employer doesn’t need to hear the details. Be as brief and positive as you can in your explanation as to why you left the job (not a good idea to say you were “fired,” “terminated,” or “tossed out on my ass”), and don’t talk against your former employer, even if he was an evil toad who forced you out because your lunch was smelly.
- Your plans to get pregnant. If you start a new job and actually get pregnant, you probably want to share that bit of news with your employer at some point before your water breaks all over her Manolos during a sales presentation. But you are not legally or morally obligated to share your personal goals with an employer you don’t even work for yet.
- Your plans to take a 2-week trip to Alaska next month to try to catch a glimpse of Sarah Palin skinning a moose. The knowledge that you might have to take 2 weeks off right after starting a job might sit sour in the interviewer’s mouth, and you don’t want that to influence their decision whether or not to hire you. Besides, you don’t know what their timeline may turn out to be. When you have an offer and are discussing a start date is the time to bring that up.
- Your recent divorce and subsequent career epiphany. The career epiphany part is fine, if it’s relevant to why you’re applying for that particular job, or how you’ve arrived at this point in your career. But leave the personal stuff for your shrink.
- Your difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Not all of us are morning people, and some workplaces are more flexible than others about work hours, but you don’t want to share your tardiness issues on a job interview. ‘Nuff said.
- How you became born-again last week. How nice for you, but the whole God thing – not an appropriate topic for an interview, unless you’re applying for a job in a monastery.
- Your salary in your last job. Yes, the interviewer may ask, but you don’t have to give out that information, even though you think you gotta answer ‘cuz they asked. Don’t forget the “it’s not an interrogation” thing. And by the way, your previous employer isn’t supposed to share that info either. You can answer the question by saying that your desired salary range is blah blah blah, based on your level of experience and the position. Your desired salary range is what’s relevant – not what you made before. After all, you may have been absurdly underpaid, or you might be more interested in a lower-paying position at this point in your career for various reasons. So there.