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The Misrepresentation of Facts at a Job Interview

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When job-hunting, it might seem enticing to exaggerate or omit certain details of your work history. You might ask yourself whether it matters if you embellish your job title and responsibilities -- or fail to disclose being fired from a past job. In 2011, international human resources and business services corporation ADP reported that 46 percent of employment background checks did not match up with information provided by job seekers. Misrepresenting your background during the interview process can keep you from being hired or even cause you to lose that new job.

Paid Dishonesty

During an interview, some applicants lie about their level of education or their work experience, making their past work seem more important. For those who are afraid their claims might be checked, sites such as and have popped up on the Internet, offering job seekers an advantage in getting through the hiring process -- for a price. These sites are targeted at those who are afraid their backgrounds might prevent them from working. These companies claim to help job seekers misrepresent -- or construct -- backgrounds, educations or criminal histories. The creator of, Derek Anderson, remarked to Human Resource Executive Online that lying during the hiring process is required to have the best opportunity to get a job.

Economic Motivation

Although the competition for jobs may be fierce, lying during an interview can cost you. Unless you work for a union or the government, most employees in the United States are classified as “at-will." As an at-will employee, your employers can fire you with or without cause for any policy violation -- including pre-employment dishonesty.

Employer Response

Human resources organizations have become increasingly savvy about weeding out candidates who use bogus information during interviews or on their applications. Employers may use different strategies to properly vet prospective employees. During an interview, an applicant may be asked in-depth questions about background, education, any gaps in employment, and any other areas of concern. After receiving a job offer, the employee's education, background and job history may be checked and verified with references and past employers.


Many people have areas of concern in their employment history -- you may have been fired from a past job or have concerns that a former boss may give you a poor reference. That should not prompt you to fabricate information -- instead, briefly answer the question, smile and move on. By being straightforward and focusing on your strengths, you will have better chance of honestly landing the job.


Mason Tilford-Mabry has extensive experience writing human resources and training materials, both as a corporate manager and as a small business owner. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English: technical communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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