CNN posted a piece today on whether or not you should lie in an interview. I’m sure you can guess that the answer is a resounding “NO!” But, the article is helpful in pointing out how you can “fudge” things a bit without exactly telling a big fat one.
One of the points brought up in the article deals with education. Alan Guinn, Managing Director of The Guinn Consulting Group, who is quoted throughout the piece, says that if you are short of graduating…”Be totally up front and ask the employer if they have a tuition reimbursement program which would help you finish that last course you need to graduate….” Let’s see here, Mr. Guinn. Are you telling me that if I was applying for a job and didn’t have a college degree, one of the first things I should say to a potential employer is, “hey, Mr. HR Director, can you hire me and PAY for my education while you’re at it?” In my opinion, asking someone to lay out additional dough in order to hire you is asking a lot — especially in this economy. I think it’s perfectly fine to say that you didn’t quite get that degree but plan on doing so in the near future with night courses.
One more thing about education I’d like to mention. Some of my clients have not finished getting their degree because they were supporting themselves financially through school and just couldn’t afford it anymore. I personally believe that putting oneself through school is admirable and shows a special kind of drive. Share this on an interview and then discuss how you plan on taking night or online courses to get that coveted diploma.
Guinn also discusses the importance of being truthful if you are “fired.” I agree, but I hesitate in using that terminology. From a pure semantics point of view, being “fired” sounds awful, like you personally were not worthy of keeping on board. I think “let go” or “laid off” are better terms to use. If it’s because you and your boss did not see eye-to-eye, then you should phrase it in a diplomatic, vs. attacking way. Nobody wants to hire someone who has difficulties getting along with others. Try saying something like this: “My boss was really smart and driven but, at the end of the day, we couldn’t seem to find common ground on how to best get the job done. We both agreed that the situation wasn’t going to work so here I am, excited to learn about an opportunity that sounds perfectly aligned with my skills.”
As to the topic of being overqualified in your resume, Guinn suggest writing multiple versions with each one highlighting the skills and experience necessary for each level position you apply for. I think his analysis is short-sighted. The reality is, once you go on an interview, it’s going to become quite clear that you are too senior for a job you are over-qualified for. The pay scale for the job is going to be skewed and the interviewer is going to fear that you will continue to look for a job at your appropriate level and leave when you find one. Would he be wrong? For more on this, read my post on “Dumbing Down Your Resume.”