I had an job interview today that went well and I accepted the job offer. The interview was in the morning during work hours so I had to make an excuse about why I was late coming into my current job. I just said that there was an issue with my car. I said this because I know that you shouldn't tell that you are interviewing somewhere else and I didn't know what else to say about why I was late.

Anyways, that is in the past, and now I am wondering, since I am usually very punctual, and I accepted the job on the day I was late, people will naturally assume that I was lying and that I was late because of the job interview. Now what I want to know is if someone asks if I was late because of the interview, should I continue the lie and say that my car was really out of order, or should I come clean and be honest?

I feel like either option has the potential of burning bridges. I will immediately burn bridges if I say right away that I lied. But I could burn bridges in the future if they later find out themselves that I went for an interview at that time.

  • 2
    It's better to take PTO, but that's not always possible. Nothing wrong with what you did, IMO. Being evasive and mysterious to avoid saying the explicit truth (like some of the answers suggest) is actually worse than saying a minor lie that no one will begrudge you for anyway.
    – teego1967
    Sep 21, 2019 at 0:38
  • 1
    As long as you took PTO, or adjusted your schedule accordingly, I don't see a reason to tell anyone the real reason. While you should have just left it at, "I had to take care of time-sensitive personal business", what is done is done. Realistically, nobody will care about your (current) employer opinion of you, since you already have a new one. Of course, the world is small, but you have already said something that wasn't true, so there is no sense in coming "clean" now. If the field is that small, work harder, to overcome their opinion of you.
    – Donald
    Sep 21, 2019 at 3:23
  • Unfortunately I didn't have any PTO available since I just took a long vacation. That is why I felt I needed a actual real good reason why I was late. And there have been others who have been leaving so I didn't want to invite suspicion. Sep 21, 2019 at 15:39

4 Answers 4


Next time this happens, I would let your manager know beforehand. It's not a good idea to not show up for work and then suddenly have an excuse as you arrive for work. That will cause suspicion. If you contact your manager and explain that you're going to be late for work due to "personal obligations", that would be a good reason.

Saying "personal obligations" isn't lying, it's ambiguous but it'll let the manager know that you rather not discuss it. Hopefully, they'll respect your life and won't need to follow up with what your reason may be.

Lying is not the best option to avoid confrontation. With some life experience, lying will eventually cause some issues as time moves on. Once you're confronted with the lie, you might resort to lying again to get out of the first lie and then you have to remember what you lied about, which then could cause some inconsistencies in your testimony. As Judge Judy once said, "If you tell the truth, then you don't have to have a good memory," meaning that if you tell the truth, knowing what to say will become natural and easy.

There are ways to tell the truth without revealing what the truth is and you don't have to create deception either. If you get hired by this other company and you accept their job offer, then you'll have to explain to your current company that you lied about being late. I think you will eventually burn that bridge whenever you have to reveal the truth. However, if I was you in this situation, I would say, "I wasn't trying to lie with bad intentions and I apologize. I just wouldn't know how you would react if I told you that I was interviewing for another company. My intentions were not supposed to be rude towards you or the company." Then they would probably ask you about why you thought about leaving, etc.

Good luck with this situation. Someone's feelings will get hurt eventually but hopefully you were lying with at least good intentions, meaning that you weren't trying to hurt anyone's feelings.

  • 5
    “Someone's feelings will get hurt eventually” — possibly, but this is just business. A lot of people really don't care. Sep 21, 2019 at 13:39
  • Similarly, if the interviews takes longer than expected so you didn't know you were going to be late beforehand, you can be honest and explain that an appointment ran late without lying or telling that the appointment was an interview.
    – Jasper
    Sep 21, 2019 at 22:30
  • I agree with the conclusion of the answer, but I can't comprehend your reasoning behind It's not a good idea to not show up for work and then suddenly have an excuse as you arrive for work. That will cause suspicion. It seems like you are excluding the possibility of any unplanned/unforeseen event causing a late arrival. At a base level, oversleeping fits the bill yet doesn't particularly seem like a reason to start suspecting the latecomer of hidden intentions.
    – Flater
    Sep 23, 2019 at 10:51
  • @Flater That is true. However, I feel like you should still be able to contact your manager before arriving into the office in the morning. Or if you don't have their number, tell them the first thing you get into the office. If you're suddenly confronted by your manager about why you're late, I feel like coming up with an excuse will cause suspicion regardless if you're lying or not. That was the context I was trying to create.
    – user82352
    Sep 23, 2019 at 14:55
  • "as Judge Judy once said" : youtube.com/watch?v=KjGCjbdDrtk&t=228
    – Pac0
    Nov 2, 2019 at 12:03

I usually would recommend taking a PTO day if you're interviewing, going over a lunch break, or going during the day and letting your manager know in advance that you need to be out for X hours - If you need an excuse for why, I don't necessarily think there's much harm in saying something like a dentist appointment or needing to be there for the cable guy to come in etc.

They'll realize after the fact that this isn't true if you leave.... but that shouldn't matter. You're leaving, oh well - part of the process of finding a job is interviewing.... and - especially if you're using personal time - it doesn't matter, not nearly as much as the fact that they need to find a replacement.

Don't worry about 'bridges' being burned - If you did the job, well enough to not get fired, you're probably fine.


Lying is rarely the best option. (Obv.)

Saying nothing, or as little as possible, is easier.

The problem here is that a colleague might be interested in cars, or just want to make conversation and start asking ("what was wrong? did you try this? what car do you have?").

If they ask, don't add more lies (avoid, for example, saying that you had a flat, or that your car wouldn't start) because that just invites more questions.

Either come clean (for example, say "The car is fine. I had to deal with a personal matter, I'd rather avoid talking about it, which is why I mentioned the car in the first place."), or stay vague (for example, "It was nothing, really, but it still took me a bit of time this morning"). Not sure if staying vague will work very long, though, as it sounds very mysterious.


Perhaps your best option is to not actually answer the question if answered. Most people will jump to the conclusion that you were actually interviewing, as you were. So many may not even ask. But if they do ask, a simple "Does it matter?" and then changing the subject could be a reasonable answer.

Unfortunately, the way interviews are set up, and the way it's not recommended that you let anyone know you're interviewing until you have a job offer in hand, giving a lie for why you were out (dentist, car problems, etc), is a very common option. The answer by KingDuken has a good way to handle it in the future, instead of lying. But you already lied, so now what?

Holding on to the lie, digging in, however, seems to go too far. That takes it from a commonly expected white lie to something darker. And for what? A strong lie so they don't think you used a white lie? It's much better to admit to the white lie than to dig in.

  • 1
    giving a lie for why you were out... is a very common option. True but I don't think it's good to encourage people to lie. Also saying "What do you think?" after the OP mentions that they already told everyone that they had car problems, it could create some unnecessary hostility.
    – user82352
    Sep 20, 2019 at 21:49
  • @KingDuken I agree that lying isn't ideal. But the OP already lied. So now what? Lie more or let them know? Sep 20, 2019 at 23:01
  • 5
    "what do you think" means "yes"
    – njzk2
    Sep 21, 2019 at 5:41
  • 1
    "What do you think?" seems a bit passive aggressive in this scenario. There are other ways to avoid answering the question, like by asking "Does it matter?" and then quickly changing the subject. Sep 21, 2019 at 15:35
  • @Dukeling oh, I like that a LOT better. I'm going to change my answer to have that, because that improves it a lot. Sep 23, 2019 at 15:29

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