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The interview question designed to discover how tempted you are to lie

Have you ever been asked where your manager thinks you are during an interview for a job?

The interviewer is not likely to be interested in the details; instead, they want to know whether you can be persuaded to lie when faced with difficult situations.

For a hiring manager or anyone conducting an interview, one of the main objectives of a job interview is to try to understand more about your character and personality in addition to evaluating your ability to do the job.

Consider the following scenario. You have a job interview scheduled for 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon and there is no way to rearrange it. What would you tell your current boss in this situation?

Your first thought may be to say that you have a dentist’s appointment, or that this was the only appointment you could get at the doctor’s. If you have children, you may be planning to say that your childcare has fallen through and you need to go and pick up your child from school. These are perfectly plausible events and your manager probably wouldn’t think twice about any of them.

If you are asked where your current boss thinks you are during your interview, what would you say? In highly-pressurised job interview environments you do not want to lie, as it is probably going to be obvious. Remember that hiring managers are likely to have conducted hundreds of job interviews and instinctively know when they are being lied to; however, you do not want to admit that you have lied to your boss, as this does not make you look good.

James Reed, the chairman of a leading job website, notes in his book that this question is asked because hiring managers want to discover exactly how tempted you are to tell a lie when telling the truth is awkward or difficult in a particular situation.

Admitting that your boss thinks you are collecting your children from school or are at a doctor’s appointment is not advisable. Succumbing to temptation to lie is not a great quality; therefore, the best way to avoid having to admit this during your interview is to avoid lying to your boss in the first place.

If it is possible to do so, taking a day off is the best solution. Questions and curiosity will certainly be provoked when leaving the workplace during the middle of a shift or workday; however, using a day of annual leave is less unusual. When you are asked where your boss thinks you are, you will be able to tell the interviewer that they did not ask because you took the day off work as part of your allocated holiday allowance.

This may not be an option for you, of course, and being as vague as possible is advisable in these situations. Rather than saying you have a doctor’s appointment, simply say that you have an appointment you cannot reschedule. If you avoid going into specific detail, it is unlikely that your boss will press for more information and you will legitimately be able to say that they think you are attending an appointment.

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