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What if I Lie About Being Fired From My Last Job?

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If you're competing in a tight labor market, lying during a job interview might seem preferable to admitting you got fired from your last job. However, it's better to be honest -- not just because it's the right thing to do, but also because companies vet candidates more extensively than ever before, and the truth will probably come out, anyway. Employers can also check your career credentials at any time, even after you've been hired. If your employer finds out you lied you could lose your job.

During Your Job Search

If you do lie, be aware that many applications now contain a warning that false or misleading statements are grounds for dismissal. Ninety-two percent of 345 human resources executives surveyed by the Society for Human Resources Professionals in 2004 said their employers favored this approach. Eighty-nine percent asked candidates to sign and date application materials, and 66 percent sought references from at least one former boss or supervisor. Such policies underscore companies' expectations of honesty, which job seekers ignore at their own risk.

Lying in Job Interviews

You may feel tempted to lie if the hiring manager asks, "Why did you leave your last job?" But don't give in to the temptation. Lying calls your ethics and trustworthiness into question. In addition, if the interviewer uncovers your lie you will likely be eliminated from consideration for the job. Employers must guard against dishonest employees for a number of reasons, including the fact that someone who would lie about getting fired from her previous job might also lie to colleagues, managers, customers and other stakeholders about important business matters.

Strategies For Interview Success

Hiring managers realize that people get fired for various reasons, so don't blow a job opportunity by making excuses or trashing old bosses. As an example, NJ,com career columnist Lee Miller writes about Andrea Guthier's approach to explaining her firing for being late two days in a row. Rather than deflecting blame, Guthier focused on what she'd learned about clarifying work schedules and showing up on time, Miller reports. Taking this approach shows that you are accountable for your actions and that you learn from mistakes, which raises your chances of getting hired.

Other Considerations

Getting hired is no guarantee against a lie tripping you up later. Many employers require new hires to complete a 90-day probationary period. During this period, your performance is monitored and your background is often verified. If your employer finds out you were lying about being fired, it is grounds for cutting you loose. Even if your lie isn't discovered until much later, you can still be terminated no matter how long you've been with the company.


Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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