scared because of interview lying

A reader writes:

I’m a legal assistant and I went for an interview with a lawyer. The office is small and there’s only one lawyer. The thing is, I lied on my first interview. My last job was at a law office assisting one attorney. I said I left on maternity leave but the truth is I left because my ex boss did not paid well. I did not want to mention this issue which I know is not proper.

My worry is that in the interview, I was asked if he can contact my ex boss and I said yes. So now I really don’t know what my ex boss is going to say or if he will really call. I’m schedule for a second interview. Do you think they will tell me that I lied regarding my past employment? Or are they really interested in me? Please advise because I’m truly scared to show up for the second interview.

I doubt they know (yet) that you lied. They’re not likely to want to waste their time with an interview just so that they can confront you about a lie. However, they’re likely to find out about the lie if you do well in the second interview and they get to the point of calling references. A very common reference question is, “Why did she leave?” At that point, the discrepancy in your story is going to come out.

Obviously, you should never lie in an interview. Ever. It doesn’t matter if you think you have a good reason for it. It’s immediately disqualifying if the interviewer discovers it, because of what it says about your integrity. It’s odd that you felt it wouldn’t be proper to mention that you left your last job over money (a perfectly legitimately reason) but didn’t feel it would be improper to lie in an interview. I’d write this job off, learn from the experience, and move on.

{ 2 comments… read them below }

  1. Rachel - I Hate HR*

    How much of a lie was it? Did you really go out on maternity leave? Did you tell anyone you were leaving because of pay?

    We all leave for practical reasons like our boss sucks, we don’t believe in management, the pay is abysmal. Some degree of lying in these cases is expected. It is a white lie to say that you left because of maternity leave if you truly did leave on maternity leave and you did not tell your former boss you were leaving due to pay.

  2. Anonymous*

    If you have never had a baby, then yes, you lied, live with it. If you did have a baby, remember that lots of women leave work when they have a baby. That’s ok.

    In my experience, many people say they leave because of pay. Well, it beats saying they are leaving because their boss is a slimeball, then finding your interviewer is related/friends with your boss.

    I suggest you confess – “I didn’t think it was professional to say I left because of the low pay, but I have been talking to some people and they advised me that it was ok to say I left because they were not paying me what I was worth. As it happens, my decision to leave co-incided with me being pregnant, and it was a good time to re-evaluate what I wanted in life. After time at home, I would now like to get back in to the workforce, and I beleive I am a good candidate for this job, and I hope my previous employer will reflect my ability and work ethic when you contact him/her.”

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