The lies we speak in a job interview [and what we actually mean]

Job interviews have become great opportunities to exaggerate your insignificant skills, veil the not-so-impressive truths about your previous jobs and appear as confident as a lion even though you are more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs

Illustration job interview candidate with long nose, lying

An interview for a job is like meeting your date for the first time. You simply cannot risk being yourself. If you do, you will either remain single or jobless or both all your life. These are tough times in the job market, especially if you are not someone whose ancestors were oppressed for centuries. And unlike the Jats, you cannot go on a rampage, burn or  pillage public property, hold up traffic on the national highway and bring an entire state to its knees, only to demand to be declared backward enough to get secure government jobs not based on merit.

Once you go to a government office or a public sector bank and see employees working hard whenever they get time from having endless tea, cigarette, lunch and snack breaks, you realise why so many of our brethren are dying to be labelled backward. If Amroha Nagar Palika received 19,000 applications and that too mostly from BA, BSc, MA, BTech and MBA candidates for 114 posts of safai karamchari [sweepers], you can imagine how scary it is out there.

Conquering the final frontier

It is a huge achievement when you finally get an interview call. So what if it’s after 5,874 rejections, heartbreaks, and ‘how-dare-they-think-I-am not good-enough’ rants! Now that you have reached the final frontier, you transform into a marketeer about to sell a ghastly tasting tea as a weight reducing miracle beverage. Not everyone is your Mom who thinks you are the best thing to have happened to mankind after Darjeeling tea.

I’m not suggesting everyone lies to get a job. But then even Yudhishthira ‘misspoke’ the truth to put an end to a bloody war that lasted 18 days. Thankfully, a typical interview lasts anything between 20 and 30 minutes within which you have to convince a bunch of grim looking strangers that you are the harbinger of their achhe din! This is the time when you get to unleash the power-hungry politician in you and make promises you have no intention of keeping. It does help if you package yourself well and try to look and sound intelligent. After all, not many take Rahul Gandhi seriously despite his impressive lineage.

What you really mean

Remember the time you wooed that hottie online? You told her you were a six feet something who loved surfing and stays up all night reading Plato and Plath with the book placed on his six pack abs. How quickly she fell for you! It helped that she lived
in Nicaragua and would never find that you’d never been near the ocean or the gym and you spend all night watching porn.

Likewise, an interview is an opportunity to be as creative as possible with the truth. If you’ve ever doubted your talents, here’s a concise list of your misspoken truths and what they actually mean.

When you say – I pride myself as a team player and have never had disagreements with my colleagues. I’m patient, understanding and kind to every single person at the office. Even those I don’t get along with.

What you really meanI work well only with those who agree with me. The ones who have problems with my style of working are either jealous of me or too stupid to recognise my genius.

When you say – I just love what you’re wearing!

What you’re thinkingI hope my desperation to get this job is not showing!

When you say – I have always wanted to work for an organisation with mission, vision and values. It would be a dream-come-true to work here.

What you really meanI don’t even know what these words mean! But they sound pompous and idealistic; besides, they make me sound good.

When you say – I resigned from my previous job because it did not help me reach my true potential. Of course, the management refused to accept my resignation but I was adamant. Everyone cried at my farewell party.

What you really meanI just need a new job to hate. When I finally put in my papers, everyone at my office cried with relief. I just hope they all die and to make sure they do, I shall fast for 56 consecutive Mondays.

When you say – I always give my 100 per cent to the organisation.

What you really meanThe decimal that comes right after 1 is only visible to me. Hehehehe!

When you say – If there’s anything I do not like about me is my quest for perfectionism. I don’t mind the extra hours I have to put in to deliver the perfect package.

What you really meanI have never met a deadline in my entire lifetime and my last boss had a nervous breakdown waiting for me to complete the job assigned to me. Last heard he had relocated to an ashram in Rishikesh where he scours utensils in the kitchen.

When you say - I have never shied from taking a tough call. If you don’t drive accountability, you’d have happy employees but a bankrupt company.

What you really meanI once caught one of the team members spitting in my tea. Last Diwali someone put a live ‘phataka’ [firecracker] under my seat. It’s a miracle I did not die of heart failure.

When you say – I am an avid reader, traveller, wildlife photographer

What you really meanLol, are you kidding me? The only wildlife I have photographed is my wife! I am an avid reader of Facebook posts. And commuting two hours each way to reach my workplace is travel, right?

When you say – Five years from now I see myself as a valuable employee of your esteemed organisation mentoring juniors and helping them realise their true potential.

What you really meanFive years from now I’ll have your job. When I sit on your side of the table, I’ll make sure nobody gets the job the way I did. By faking it.

Such glib talking will ensure that these fools will fall for you hook, line and sinker. You can now look forward to a match made in heaven. Of course, most relationships are made in China [they rarely last forever], especially the ones based on lies. But while you’re still a couple, you can keep pretending your boss dearest is the best thing to have happened to you in public, and bitch about her in private. Thankfully you won’t have to wait seven years to get the ‘seven year itch’.  At the first signs of restlessness, you can start sailing the ocean in search of a juicier new catch and prepare a new set of lies to net that big fish.


This article first appeared in the April 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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