5 Important Things to be Upfront About in a Job Interview

Employers check out countless job applications every year, so how can you make yours stand out from the crowd? After all, your whole career is riding on this, so it wouldn’t hurt to pad your resume just a little, or to tell a little white lie, right? Wrong. There can be serious consequences for falsifying information on your resume. An interviewer can — and will — verify the information you provide, whether it’s where you attended college, or how long you worked at your last job. If you’re afraid that a past termination or a criminal background will interfere with your ability to get hired, consider this: An employer would much rather hire an honest person than one who misrepresents himself right off the bat.

1. Lack of Experience

A lot of entry-level positions don’t expect their candidates to have extensive experience, but exaggerated job skills make up the majority of lies on applications, according to a recent Harris Poll via NBC News. It doesn’t pay to exaggerate what type of credentials you have, or what type of special skills you’ve honed. What if you land an interview because you say you can type 80 words per minute? Once you’ve been hired, your manager will be looking to see how you perform. If you can’t live up to your hype, you might find yourself out of a job again soon.

2. Gaps in Employment

It’s not uncommon for graduates to take a little time off after they finish school, but before they start their job search. Whether you took a break to backpack across Europe, or you couldn’t find employment due to the struggling economy, your best bet is to be forthright when addressing this with the hiring staff. You might be able to illustrate how a personal setback or a spontaneous vacation shaped your character.

3. Job-Related Weaknesses

“What do you see as your biggest weakness?” That’s one of the most common questions that employers ask during job interviews, and it’s also one of the toughest. Applicants who say they have no weaknesses may risk coming across as arrogant and dishonest. The hiring agent knows that everybody has areas that need a little improvement. It’s an admirable trait to identify your own shortcomings, and it offers an opportunity to show you know where you need improvement, and that you’re eager to learn.

4. Past terminations

Remember those references you put on your job application? Your prospective employer will most likely follow up on them to verify the information you’ve provided. If you’ve been terminated in the past, a former boss may disclose this information. When it doesn’t jive with the information on your resume, it reflects poorly on the applicant. People get terminated for a ton of reasons, and hiring staff is familiar with most of them. There’s a possibility they’ve even been fired before. They’ll likely offer a chance for you to explain the circumstances, and will often be more understanding than you think.

5. Criminal records

A criminal background can be a tricky thing to get around. Background checks can’t access offenses that have been cleared from your record, but felony convictions may show up on a background check indefinitely, although some jurisdictions limit the reporting times for any criminal convictions, regardless of the grade of the offense. A criminal record can be a major obstacle to getting hired, but it’s not impossible. Have an honest discussion with your potential employer about prior convictions that are still in your criminal history. An upfront attitude can help job candidates address problems proactively, providing an explanation for anything that mars their background. Depending on the line of work, the company might just give you a second chance.

Employers find it admirable when job candidates take the initiative to confront potentially negative items in their background. It can be a hard subject to broach, but once you’ve gotten through it, you can highlight your unique strengths. That way you’ll know that anything that comes up in a background check won’t be a surprise to the person that may offer you your next big career move. If you have additional questions about employer and employee rights, consult the Fair Credit Reporting Act.


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Christian Moore is the COO at Global Verification Network. Christian has more then 20 years of investigative and business experience.