Ten things you may reveal during job interview (Response to Forbes Article)


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In continuation to my recent articles on preparation for the interview, and few pointers to make perform better during the interview, I stumbled on an article at Forbes - Ten Things Never, Ever to reveal in a job interview by Liz Ryan. I agree with some of the pointers she voiced, but few might hurt the employee/employer relationship in the long run or may even be considered borderline unethical. This blog-post is an attempt to share my humble opinion while having experience as an entrepreneur & employee. Please read it with a pinch of salt, and do share your comments.

As per Forbes article, ten things to keep to yourself (and my opinions alongwith),

  1. The fact that you got fired from your last job -- or any past job.
    Yes, this is irrelevant and can be avoided in the interview.
    But, if your firing included a legal case against you, or something that the new employer may find in the background check, or police verification; it's better to come clean at the start than being embarrassed later.

  2. The fact that your last manager (or any past manager) was a jerk, a bully, a lousy manager or an idiot, even if all those things were true.
    No need to mention that. No one likes to interview a candidate that bitches of the old colleagues or managers.
    It may only be acceptable to an extent if it has resulted in harassment case and you have taken the "justifiable" decision to leave the firm based on how they treated you.

  3. The fact that you are desperate for a job. Some companies will be turned off by this disclosure, and others will use it as a reason to low-ball you.
    I agree here. Keep the leverage of negotiating the terms with yourself & don't expose all your cards.

  4. The fact that you feel nervous or insecure about parts of the job if you're applying for. You don't want to be cocky and say "I can do this job in my sleep!" but you also don't want to express the idea that you are worried about walking into the new job. Don't worry! Everyone is worried about every new job, until you figure out that everyone is faking it anyway so you may as well fake it, too.
    Okay, I do agree with the pointer here, but if you are insecure or feeling nervous than you might as well give this position a rethought. Pursue a role you are confident to manage and don't manipulate the interviewer by showing "confidence" when you have no idea of its role & responsibilities. Don't express the nervous jitters of the new job, nor be cocky with overconfidence. But, be true to yourself and the employer if the assignment is well in your forte.

  5. The fact that you had a clash or conflict with anybody at a past job or that you got written up or put on probation. That's no one's business but yours.
    It is on the same grounds as you being fired in your last job or your relationship with your x-manager. Chose sensibly as there's no black & white answer to handling this situation without knowing the complete context. There can be scenarios when you may want to tell the interviewer (example: if your old company may well be the client of the new firm, and you may be allocated to this project (TRUE STORY))

  6. The fact that you have a personal issue going on that could create scheduling difficulty down the road. Keep that to yourself unless you already know that you need accommodation, and you know what kind of accommodation you need. Otherwise, button your lip. Life takes its own turns. Who knows what will happen a few months from now?
    Okay, this I don't agree 100% as being an entrepreneur, I would like my employee or hiring candidate to be right to me if they have an ongoing commitment or something that might come up. Most of the companies hire candidates with few weeks of the probation period, or a company may even fire you if you intentionally kept your planned "engagement" with the firm.
    There is a change in the outlook of companies, and they would appreciate if you keep them in the loop of ongoing personal issues (briefly) so they can expect the right amount of deliverables. Else, your performance and scheduling may well slide off the track which can cause you problems in the long run.

  7. The fact you're pregnant, unless you already telling people you don't know well (like the checker at the supermarket). A prospective employer has no right to know the contents of your uterus. It is none of their business.
    I have a different opinion on this, and my answer depends on the which trimester you are in. If you are in the first trimester, and by God's grace doing well, telling the employer is your choice. Keep in mind that if the employer is unaware of your health status; they may not be able to judge the kind of workload which is "healthy" for you or that you have a medical reason for not doing overtime etc.
    Being in the 2nd trimester, you have to be careful, and you should tell the employer about your condition. It will not be well appreciated that after joining for a month, you may go on maternity leave. I mean employer may as well have commitments on the ongoing projects and deadlines.
    And if you are in the 3rd trimester, I would recommend you to enjoy your pregnancy and don't stress about looking out for new job, projects and deadlines. You have a much more significant responsibility and full-time job for few months.

  8. The fact that this job pays a lot more than the other jobs you've held. That information is not relevant and will only hurt you.
    Yes, I agree. Every situation and employer must have their range of compensation, and the only thing you have to consider is if that's enough for you; independently of your last paycheck or other jobs.

  9. The fact that you are only planning to remain in your current city for another year or some other period of time. That fact alone will cause many companies not to hire you. They want to retain the right to fire you for any reason or no reason, at any moment -- but they can't deal with the fact that you have your own plans, too -- and that people don't always take a job with the intention of staying in the job forever.
    If you are planning to stay in the city for a year, and then move; let the employer know about it. Understand your relationship with the employer is mutual, and you would expect the same from it. What if the employer is closing the office in six months and the hire you "hiding this fact", and then let you go in six months. I mean we don't have to lie to each other to hire the perfect person or land the ideal job.

  10. The fact that you know you are overqualified for the job you're interviewing for, and that your plan is to take the job and quickly get promoted to a better job. For some reason, many interviewers find this information off-putting. I have been to countless HR gatherings where I heard folks complaining about "entitled" or "presumptuous" job applicants who had the nerve to say "This job is just a stepping stone for me." How dare they!
    Without a doubt, I agree. But if you are overqualified for the job, or you think you may as well get bored, think again before saying yes to the employer. Refer my previous articles on preparation and performance.

In general when I appear for the interview, or if I interview someone; I prefer to be straightforward of my current conditions, and expect the same from the employer. The working relationship is essential and must not start with hiding information that can impact your performance. You will spend 1/3rd of your life at your workplace, and I don't think you want to kick off my keeping the critical facts hidden. Think before you hide something - whether it will shock your employer, or surprise them and how well they would react to it, is disclosed.

Employee or Employer, both have their commitments and deadlines. The person taking your interviews, or the one managing you have to know if you have some hiccups along the way else their performance may also impact because of you. So, think of these pointers again and do share what you feel is necessary to set the right expectations.

Cheers, and best wishes.

This article shares my opinions, and by no means an offence to the Forbes article. Please take it with a pinch of salt.