Help me be an effective liar while job-hunting

I don’t actually want to lie, but well, let’s say that toning down my opinions in sensitive situations is not my strong suit sometimes. In fact, sometimes the fact that I’m a lousy liar works against me, so I need to find a diplomatic way to explain (to recruiters and in interviews) why I want to find a new job.

The real reason is that my immediate supervisor is an incompetent manager who is driving me crazy, as outlined in these threads:

The sad part is that I actually like what I do and am damn good at it, if given half a chance. On the bright side, my firm, although well-respected for the quality of its work product, has a terrible rep for not giving a damn about employee morale and being a place where people burn out quickly, unless they are resigned to never having a life outside of work. This means that anyone in my field will understand why I want to leave. But I need to find an explanation that a) is 100% true, and b) will not make people think I’m some kind of wacko or lazy bum who has a problem with putting in overtime if needed.

It’s not the overtime that gets me; it’s what seems to be the inverse relationship lately between how hard I work and how much I produce, because of all the conflicting and confusing instructions and the information about what my boss wanted that isn’t transmitted to me until I have already finished the project. How can I come across as not being as frustrated and bitter as I currently am, while still telling the truth?

Whatever you do don’t bad mouth your current company. The adage ‘if they gossip to you they’ll gossip about you’ is firmly entrenched in the corporate mind-set.

Try something like ‘I felt it was time to move on. I didn’t think I was growing in the role.’

Or just be honest. Say you don’t mind overtime but the persistant overtime was taking away from your family/life/what-have-you.

I’ve always appreciated that sort of honesty in an interview. And it lets me know what to expect.

Plus, if you don’t make clear what you expect early there’s no saying that you might not find yourself in the same bind with a new firm. Go into the interviewing knowing the position you want and what your expectation are for the corporate culture. State them openly and let them make up their mind.

After all, if they don’t want to give you want you want you don’t want to work for them, do you?

I do not think you need to go into too many details. Just say something like you have been doing the same thing for a while now and you are looking for new opportunities and challenges.

And remember what Jack Handey says in one of his “Deep Thoughts”:

First, you sound exactly like an ex-programmer of mine… You sure yoiu aren’t her? :slight_smile:
I liked her a lot - but I’m (technically) as good as my workers (if I say so myself), and thus confident enough to avoid yes-persons :wink: on my team… My immediate supervisor, however, thought otherwise. After half a year of struggling to keep her, and one too many (deserved!) diatribes by her, directed at him, against How Things Are Done, off she was…
All this is leading into my point: She used me as a reference. We agreed that I would always tell whoever asked that she : [ul][li]Is conscientious (sp?)[]Is talented[]Thinks for herself[]Comes up with new ideas[]Works hard when necessary[]But may be abrasive in some cases[]And will speak her mind when she disagrees with you[*]It’s a package deal… You can’t have one without the other…[/ul] [/li]Took her half a year, but she found a job that she loves.

I’d say you should bring up the points above (and if you are anything like my ex-worker, the shoe will fit). You’ll be surprised how many managers want independent people like that - especially the good ones that are worth working for!

Why are you leaving? Just say something about “change of pace”. Let your references bring up the real reasons - like
I know she was unhappy there; she had so many ideas and noone would listen; just lowering hear head and following dumb-ass instructions was stressing her out because she knew it was stupid…”, etc.

You need to find someone who knows you and yoiur work environment well, whom yoiu trust, and who will be willing to be a reference for you, of course. Not as easy if you’re still working there…

Hope this helps (and, of course, the usual YMMV disclaimer)


To lie well, you must know the situation you are lying about. Work out the spin you’ll put on your reasons for leaving your current job. Know the ins and outs of it, understand the situation that you are constructing in your mind (based on reality, of course). That way, when you lie, you’re prepared and you don’t have to think on your feet, so you won’t seem nervous.

Of course, don’t over plan. Know the situation, don’t rehearse lines or anything. You want it to sound like you’re telling the truth, not delivering lines. And working from a pre-prepared back story allows you to be flexible if unexpected questions come up.

Don’t volunteer too much information, because you will get caught more easily that way. But don’t be vague - that’s a sure sign of lying. Just give the relevent information without seeming to obscure anything. And lies are like conspiracy theories. The less people you involve in your lie, the more likely you’ll get away with it. You can control what you say, but not what other people say.

That’s how to lie - or put spin on. I’m not so useful at telling you what spin to put on, but others have already helped you with that.

What everyone else said. PLUS, it helps if you psyche yourself up to simply NOT CARE if you get the job or not.

Don’t go in stressed about “NeeeeHEEEEDING this job Sooooo badly”. If you’re horribly stressed about that, and putting all sorts of pressure on yourself to “perform” you’ll just shoot yourself in the foot.

Remember, you’re not “losing” anything if you don’t get the job. You didn’t have it to begin with, so if you don’t get it through this (or subsequent) interviews, you’re even from where you started out when you walked in the door.

I know, easier said than done, but with practice, you can get yourself there.

My advice? As horrendously sucky as this sounds. Interview for everything you can think of.

Go on cold calls (UUUUGGGGHH, I know, I know), accept interviews for jobs you have no intention of taking and so on.

What this does is desensitize you to being so nervous when you go on the “real ones”.

Also, check out (or buy) books geared for employers and what THEY should be looking for when they interview for new employees.

If you can get away with it, talk to people who work at the company that you’re interviewing with.

Good luck, I feel for you, job hunting sucks.

[George Costanza] It’s not a lie if you believe it. [/GC]

Never have I heard such a truth expressed so well in a sit-com. You don’t have to lie, but you don’t have to give the whole truth either. Telling an interviewer what they want to hear, while keeping to the general parameters of the truth is perfectly acceptable.

Can’t you move to a different part of your current company, with a different team leader? Can you tell your ultimate boss that you cannot produce the quality of work and gain the experience you need whilst working under your current team leader.
If they can’t or wont move you to another team, then in the interview for a new job you can say that you were not getting any chances to advance your carreer in the old job, perhapse that you were ready to take on team leading responsibilities but there had been no opportunity at the old job. In the new job you would welcome the chance to prove yourself, and to take a team leading placement when one becomes available.

Generally for any job interview a good ‘spin’ to use is

Old job was good and useful training, but I couldn’t improve my carreer in the way I wished due to limited possibility for advancement.

New job will give me more challenges, and allow me to advance into more senior roll.

gex gex, you beautiful bastard, if I ever write that Magnum Opus, I may just have to steal your post. Beautiful, simply beautiful. You’ve really rekindled my faith in humanity.


I’ve been trying that for months, and in fact warned the Big Boss even before he moved me to this team some months ago that it wasn’t going to work, and exactly why. The fact that I’ve been 100% right is getting me nowhere, and I’m daily more convinced that the fish is rotten at the head. I think it’s time to move on.

A great approach is to focus on what you like about the new opportunity. “I really like what I’ve heard about XYZ firm.” Or, “the position you advertised seems to focus on X, which is the direction I’d like to take my career.”

In other words, don’t come across like you’re trying to find a new job. Come across like you are uniquely interested in what they have to offer.

Another good quote:

There’s “the truth”:frowning: …and there’s “the truth”:D.

Basically, you create a “character” of yourself that is the best and brightest of everything you’ve done. You put a positive spin on everything, even if you sucked at it:

  • I didn’t get fired from my job after only working 4 months. I worked temporary job while finding the “right” job.

  • I didn’t job hop for more $ for the first 5 years of my career. I advanced rapidly to positions of greater responsibility.

  • I wasn’t a raging alchoholic hook-up artist at my last job. I worked for a company that had a strong collegial culture.
    Of course it’s easier for me since I am a professional management consultant and my job is essentially 100% bullshit anyway.

Oh yeah…that quote was from Lionell Hutz from The Simpsons.

How about: “I very much enjoy the work that I do, but after working at [old firm] for ## years, I’ve realized that its corporate culture is not that of someplace I’d like to spend my career. I’m looking for someplace that will give me more responsibility and autonomy.”