Stop Lying On Your Resume And In Interviews — Truth-Tellers Will Win

A new study from University College London suggests that telling the truth in a job interview versus lying about your strengths and weaknesses will land you the gig.

In the movie "The Devil Wears Prada," Anne Hathaway’s character openly admits to the editor of an iconic fashion magazine that she couldn't care less about the world of designer brands and chic cosmetic lines.

Shockingly, she still gets the job. She told the truth about her lack of knowledge and utter nonchalance about the job at hand and was hired nonetheless.

Would you have told the truth or lied if you were in the same situation?

According to Daily Mail, new research from University College London suggests that the brutally honest approach taken by Hathaway's character, Andy Sachs, really works.

The first study explored a sample of 1,240 teachers from around the world who applied for placements in the U.S. The candidates who were evaluated as high-quality applicants had a 51 percent likelihood of receiving a placement, but this increased to 73 percent for those who also had a strong drive to be truthful about their strengths and weaknesses.

Woman in interview

The second study duplicated this effect with a different group of people. This time, they assessed 333 lawyers who were applying for positions in the U.S. military.

For this group, high-quality candidates increased their chances of receiving a job from 3 percent to 17 percent when they talked openly about their strengths and weaknesses. 

However, this effect was only seen in high-quality candidates. For those rated as low-quality, the need to self-verify only seemed to weaken their position in the interview.

“People are often encouraged to only present the best aspects of themselves at interview so they appear more attractive to employers, but what we’ve found is that high-quality candidates – the top 10 percent – fare much better when they present who they really are. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for poorer quality candidates who can actually damage their chances of being offered the job by being more authentic," Dr. Sun Young Lee, from UCL’s School of Management, who co-authored the study stated.

In this case, "honesty is the best policy," is actually only half true. Only people who can use honesty to their advantage will reap the benefits. 

Previous research suggests between 65 and 92 percent of candidates misrepresent themselves in some way during interviews, and interestingly one survey finds that men consistently rated their own past performance about 30 percent higher than it really was, while women only rated it at 15 percent higher.

While a little white lie won't hurt you, broad, sweeping ones most certainly will in the long run. If you lie about your experience and have to learn something from scratch at a new job, you'll be left behind quickly. However, if you're up-front about your lack of knowledge but emphasize your willingness to learn and your ease of picking things up quickly, employers may just give you a chance to prove it.

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