In most cases, honesty is the best policy. During job interviews, however, that honesty policy becomes a bit murkier. Some things are best left unsaid when it comes to putting your best foot forward. Eager job candidates have a tendency to purge all information — both personal and professional — to an interviewer who shows even the slightest evidence of humanity and/or interest toward them. This is bad. Real bad. In fact, over-sharing can cost you the job.
When are the best times to remain tight-lipped during a job interview? Here are eight secrets you’ll want to keep tight to your chest come interview day.
1. You need a job right away
Your potential future employer does not need to know how desperate you are for a job. We don’t recommend you lie about being employed if you are not — that only shows dishonesty and promotes distrust.
But, how much you want or need a new position should be kept secret. If you let it slip how unhappy you are in your current role and are frantically searching for a new one, companies may use it as a reason to offer less money.
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2. You’re pregnant
Whether you should expose your pregnancy during a job interview is a highly contested topic among professionals. It may seem dishonest to keep it a secret, but CareerBuilder suggests concealment is your best option.
Employment attorney Donna Ballman says, “My best advice is to not disclose your pregnancy while job hunting. If you’re showing, then you may have to say something, but otherwise, don’t disclose until you get a firm job offer. If they rescind the offer or fire you once they find out you’re pregnant, then you may have a pregnancy discrimination case.”
Businesses worry pregnant job seekers could accept a job offer then take maternity leave soon after. When this happens, the company loses money by hiring you — something that’ll work against you during the interview.
Next: Keep quiet if you want more money
3. The starting salary for this job is much higher than you’ve ever made before
Effective salary negotiation begins during your very first conversation with employers. It’s best to avoid the salary question during interviews, but sometimes that’s not possible.
If this current opening pays a lot more than other jobs you’ve held in the past, remain tight-lipped. Disclosing this information will eliminate any chance for negotiations and hurt your job offer in the long run. Instead, let them know how much money you are worth based on experience and value if asked for a number range during your interview.
Next: Should you mention that you were fired from your last job?
4. You got fired from your last job
This one is pretty simple. Don’t let the cat out of the bag. John Crowley, an employee at the HR-software company People, tells Business Insider that job seekers are under no legal obligation to disclose whether they were fired from a previous job.
“Having said this, they will probably want to know why you left — or at least why you’re seeking a new opportunity. At all costs, try to avoid being dragged into a conversation about why you were fired.”
Disclosing that you’ve been fired from your last job will raise more questions than answers and you may be forced to defend yourself by way of bad-mouthing. This is a huge turnoff to any employer.
Next: A secret about your co-workers you must keep close during job interviews
5. Your past conflict(s) with a co-worker
You must — all at costs — make every attempt to squash the need you feel to voluntarily divulge any conflicts encountered in your previous jobs. It’s no one’s business but your own whether you were written up or put on probation for a work quarrel.
Similarly, there’s no need to start badmouthing your boss or former employer — ever. If you didn’t have the best working relationship with your last team, stay quiet. Those negative experiences could work against you if an interviewer assumes you are hard to work with.
Next: A life event you want to avoid talking about
6. You’re recently engaged
For the same reason you may choose to hide a pregnancy, you might opt to keep mum about your recent engagement or wedding. Right or wrong, your new commitment may signal maternity leave is in the near future. Many women choose to remove their rings pre-interview to curb unwanted judgment, such as a lower salary requirement if they flash expensive diamonds.
As one woman told Who What Wear, “It’s not about hiding the fact that I’m married; it’s about making sure the discussion stays on the job and keeping judgments that could affect getting that job to a minimum.”
Next: Whether it’s true or not, don’t divulge this information
7. You’re planning to relocate soon
The average American moves 11.4 times in their lifetime. So if you’re planning a far-off relocation — or simply subscribe to the “millennial job-hopping” narrative — you may want to keep that on the down low for the time being. The simple fact that you only plan to remain in your current city for a short while longer may cause companies to overlook you for a more permanent candidate.
Next: Why talking about personal issues can get hairy
8. Personal issues that could affect your availability and productivity
Life happens, and personal issues are bound to pop up over the course of your professional career. But employers are more likely to be sympathetic to the needs of a current employee than someone they’re interviewing and barely know. No matter how great a connection you forge with your interviewer, it’s never wise to disclose personal roadblocks such as a recent layoff, family drama, a divorce, or the bad car accident that left you with a stack of expensive medical bills.
Yes, these are terrible instances, but the unfortunate truth is that employers will view this as a performance inhibitor. It’s best to keep interview conversations circled around your professional life if you want to be viewed as the right candidate for the job.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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