I recently received a comment at Elephants at Work asking “Do you ever tell a new employer that you lied during the interview after you got the job?” Here’s his story:

istock_000006916716xsmallI was fired from my first job (was only there for 3 months) for staff misconduct; I refused a staff search and doing that lead to me being fired.

I now have a new job but during my interview I was asked if I’ve ever had a job and I said no because I didn’t want to mention the fact that I did but I got fired. I’m now thinking if I should let my manager know.

I already have the job and she might respect the fact that I’m coming forward and being honest rather then her finding out from someone else. I also believe she already knew I had been fired because when she asked if I’ve ever had a job before and I said no she looked at me as if she knew I was lying.

Do you think I should let her know and get it off my chest? Also would she fire me for not being honest about having a job? Just for the record I didn’t lie and say I’ve never been fired, I lied about never having a job before this one.

If it helps I am 19 and my current job is a customer assistant within the retail field. On one hand I’m thinking that it won’t matter that much, I’ve already got the job and I’m being honest so she’ll probably brush it to one side. But on the other hand I know there’s some managers and other people high up that don’t like me so they may use this to their advantage and fire me. Also I’m still within my 3-month probation period that everyone goes through when they get a new job here in the UK.

Your situation is one that some job hunter face and ultimately find themselves working with a new employer after embellishing or telling a lie to get the job. While you are in the UK and some laws may be different, I will address this from a US perspective.

There are several areas I would like to discuss: your conscience, company politics and implications.

Once you have gone down the slippery path where you lied during an interview to get the job or to avoid a difficult conversation, think real hard about if you want to reopen the topic.

I realize your conscience is bothering you and you things to be on the up and up (which is commendable). It is astute of you to question if coming clean will be harmful to your employment – because it might.

Since you are in your probationary period, this is NOT the time to discuss the situation with anyone in the company. Once out of probation and after you have proved your loyalty and value to the organization, you may (notice I said may) want to have that conversation with your boss.

Consider carefully if your boss has enough clout and influence in the organization to support you if things go badly. If the higher ups want to use this as an opportunity to get rid of you, your boss may not be able to protect you. This is another reason to wait until you can prove you are a great employee!

Alternatively, remember that when you lied during the interview, you were not lying on the application. In the U.S., employees can be terminated for providing false information on their employment application and that is how employers fire someone without going through an extensive disciplinary process.

Ultimately, you want to have a great relationship with your boss, and if this nagging lie continues to haunt you, find the right time to approach the subject.

For example, let’s say a similar situation comes up and because you learned a lesson, you decide to accept an assignment that you would not accepted at your prior employer. You could say to your boss, “I had a similar situation in my last employer and I told them I was uncomfortable doing it.” Try to avoid the words – refused to do it.

“I learned a lesson – to ask more questions before saying I can’t do something or being more open to new challenges” – tailor it to what you really believe. At that point, you have come clean.

Good luck!