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PLEASE NOTE :- The answers given here does not answer my question, as it does not mention the problems that I have been through.

I am in a very similar situation as the OP of this question. Unlike the OP of the question link, I was forced to take that interview with the client, as the manager didn't take no for an answer.

I have two years of experience in the MEAN stack and PHP, but the manager faked it as four years of experience in Java. Naturally the client wanted to interview me, so that he could be sure to assign her/his project. So, I had only five days to prepare worth four years of Java knowledge.

When I asked my manager that it is highly risky and I don't want to do it, he said that PHP and Java are the same languages, only different syntaxes. He is a manager of 28 years experience in the IT field, and he does not know that PHP does not use OOP, DSA, and multithreading as much as used in Java. The end point was I didn't want to be blamed for any negative consequences from the client's interview.

My concern was, what if the client asks questions on Java that I can't answer. Two things might happen:

  • The client thinks I faked my resume. The company will have to agree with this, because otherwise the blame goes to them, and they may lose all the other projects from the client.

  • The client thinks the company is faking the resume to get projects, and again either the company is going to throw me under the bus.

In either case, I am afraid that this may severely affect my career in the future.

Seeing such unethical behavior, I have decided to quit, even when I don't have offers in hand. Many companies that interviewed me before, decided against hiring me because of the 90 day of notice period, but I think after quitting, I will have more offers while serving the notice period.

My questions are :-

  • In interviews for a new company (not the client), can I mention about the unethical practices of the company when they ask "Why did you quit ?"?

  • How can I make sure that the unethical behavior of the current company does not in any way hamper my career?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 17, 2022 at 18:23

8 Answers 8

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The point of "Don't badmouth your employer" is so that you don't come across as a difficult employee, especially not one who quits whenever management makes a decision they disagree with. You also don't want to come across as someone who airs his employer's dirty laundry in public.

However this is a bit of a different case. Lying on a resume is a major ethical violation. Your refusing to go along with it can reflect on you only positively - at least with the sort of employer you want to work for.

So I would go a bit stronger with your "reason why you left". I would suggest "Management made some ethical decisions that I disagreed with". If you are pressed for more details (and you probably will be) then "They asked me to lie on a resume in order to get a contract". Don't give details of which company you were asked to lie to, or any other company confidential information.

Incidentally, for future readers, there was a step you should probably have taken before quitting, which was to ask your manager's boss if this kind of lying is OK for the company. Sometimes a manager is acting alone in order to get a contract, and the rest of the company might strongly disapprove. The outcome of this might have been that you manager was fired, and you still had a job where you weren't being asked to lie. Also I would have been inclined to refuse to lie and let the company fire me. They would have had to either pay you severance, or explain that you were fired for refusing to lie, which might have been difficult for them. However I'm unfamiliar with Indian laws so that might not have worked in your country.

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    Good comment, but I'd change the wording. maybe something more like: "My supervisor made some decisions I considered unethical and in violation of the company code of conduct, and I had the choice to go along with them or quit." Strongly agree that OP should've taken this up the chain of command before quitting, but he didn't and here we are.
    – Tom
    Mar 15, 2022 at 14:02
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    @Tom Oh I did. I did ask the manager if this faking thing is good. To my surprise, he said 9 other people had done this in the same company. Moreover, he told me that, General Manager (Co-Founder of the company) is the person, who insisted on faking resume.
    – Asish
    Mar 16, 2022 at 2:40
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    "General Manager (Co-Founder of the company) is the person, who insisted on faking resume." - So they are scammers. Let's name it.
    – Fildor
    Mar 16, 2022 at 10:09
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    @Asish: Did you check that with the general manager? Sure, your manager might have been telling the truth about that part, but I'm not sure it's safe to take anything he says at face value at this point. If you're going to lie to a client, why not lie to an employee? Mar 16, 2022 at 10:10
  • @IlmariKaronen Yes I did. He is the one who said that Java and PHP are no different
    – Asish
    Mar 18, 2022 at 16:40
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In interviews for a new company (not the client), can I mention about the unethical practices of the company when they ask "Why did you quit ?" ?

You can always start with "I didn't feel that was a good cultural fit for me". If someone keeps digging further, you can bring it up but you have to be very diplomatic about it. For example, "My company wanted me to represent my skill set to a client in way that wasn't as accurate as I would have liked and I wasn't really comfortable with this situation".

Find a sentence that's accurate, doesn't outrightly accuse but allows the listener to read between the lines, then write down the sentence and practice it in front of a mirror. Do not improvise or do this "ad hoc". If they keep pushing, repeat the sentence and then switch to "I think this is all I would like to say on the matter".

How can I make sure that the unethical behavior of the current company does not in any way hamper my career?

That's unlikely to be a problem since you did the ethical thing. Chances are your new employer doesn't know about it anyway. If they do bring it up, you can be much more open and say "well that type of behavior was the reason I left" and that should work to your advantage.

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    I can't really agree with this... Most hiring managers (myself included) would rather you answered honestly without beating around the bush. These overly robotic, preprepared answers just reek of you trying to hide something. Particularly given that the OP wants to do the right thing, there's no need for it Mar 16, 2022 at 10:44
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    Agreed with @Persistence, Specially since you did the right thing and walked away. That's points for you in my book
    – bruno_cw
    Mar 16, 2022 at 12:21
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    @Persistence - I agree with you, but I also agree with the answer, to an extent. People are complicated and you can't really tell in advance if being 100% honest here would lead to an interviewer thinking "outstanding: an honest and ethical person" or "wow: will they badmouth this company if/when they leave?" The interviewer wasn't there when the situation arose and isn't privy to the actual details, so perhaps trying to walk a tightrope might be better advised than a bald "I left because they were liars who were corrupting me". I don't have an answer to offer, BTW - this is a hard problem.
    – Spratty
    Mar 16, 2022 at 12:31
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    Also worth noting that it's a cultural thing, to give two extremes: In the Netherlands you should probably be diplomatically honest. In South East Asia you should probably go with a well rehearsed evasive answer. Anyway, general advice if you do go down the honest route is to always use language describing your impressions/feelings/beliefs, so "I was under the impression that my manager was completely misrepresenting my skill set to a customer [some more detail], and I was afraid that I might be blamed for the fallout if it came out.". Mar 16, 2022 at 12:43
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    I'd recommend starting diplomatic, and then (and some awkwardness can be in your favour here, seeming gleeful about this is probably a bad look), being more honest if they ask a follow up. The generic wording here is good, but I've had some success awkwardly seguewaying into something a lot more blunt when pushed - it tells them some useful things about you (you can use tact) but also that you'll not shy away from answering hard questions
    – lupe
    Mar 17, 2022 at 13:22
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I don’t know how relevant this is to Indian workplace culture and laws, but it’s important to note that in some legal jurisdictions, what your manager did could quite possibly be considered fraud. Considering that this is a serious (and in some cases criminal) offense, your resignation can be easily explained by you not wanting to be a party or accomplice to such behavior, even setting aside the ethical issues.

Thus, the logic of @DJClayworth’s answer explaining that the usual “don’t badmouth your employer” rule does not apply in this situation is in fact much stronger than that answer suggests. Frankly, an employer who would be even a little bit put off or alarmed by learning that you preferred to resign over engaging in illegal and blatantly unethical behavior, is an employer you wouldn’t want to work for in the first place.

To summarize, the decision of how to present things in an interview is both culture-dependent and personal. But when weighing the issue, it’s good to keep in mind just how egregious (and potentially illegal) the deception that led to your resignation really was.

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  • I'd argue you want to coach this carefully - you also have to come across as a reasonable party, and the interviewers have no way of judging you outside the interview. I've definitely had people who, for example, jumped to the worst possible reading of something rather than getting clarifying advice. This clearly isn't the case here, it's pretty blatently fraudulent, but your interviewers have no way of knowing this.
    – lupe
    Mar 17, 2022 at 14:15
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You are in a very difficult situation, and any attempt to lie in the interview with the customer might cause severe damage to your future career.

One suggestion; imagine that your skills and commitment were half as good as they really are; you've kind-of been working for 4 years in this area, but a lot of that time wasn't properly focussed, you experimented with ideas that didn't really pan out, and so on.

You then are able to honestly represent your current-self; if they present you with a technique you only read about last night, you can say that you read about it, but haven't put it into practice.

Of course the customer will realise they aren't talking to a hotshot programmer, and may decline to hire you. The problem with that is that your manager will blame you for deliberately failing the interview; to try and guard against that, make a list of the topics that were covered, so you have a record of the mismatch between them, and your actual experience.

With regard to the false claims of your experience, you can distance yourself a bit from that, suggesting there might have been some confusion over how long you'd actually worked, and that you didn't get to see the final draft of the document. It is not at all unusual for a candidate to exaggerate their work-experience in order to get a job, so if there is a bit of disconnect between what you say, and what the paperwork says, the client shouldn't be too surprised.

For all you know, your employer may already have a bad reputation in the industry for exaggerating employee's skills, and the customer knows that, and is prepared to make due allowance.

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    I think you've misunderstood the question. The OP is not asking for advice on how to handle the client interview. See: "My questions are :- In interviews for a new company (not the client)" Mar 15, 2022 at 14:11
  • Agreed with Jon. OP's question says that he has already decided to quit.
    – reirab
    Mar 15, 2022 at 15:03
  • You are right, I was addressing the sentences containing the phrases "My concern was..." and "I am afraid that this may severely affect..." as I thought that some reassurance on that front might be helpful. However, this wasn't answering a question that OP specifically asked.
    – jayben
    Mar 15, 2022 at 16:31
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In interviews for a new company (not the client), can I mention about the unethical practices of the company when they ask "Why did you quit ?" ?

It is generally not a good idea to badmouth your previous company. The way you have described this situation certainly shows that you are right about not wanting to lie to a client. It might not be taken that way by a potential employer however and thus it is best to leave it out.

How can I make sure that the unethical behavior of the current company does not in any way hamper my career?

You do the job to the best of your ability at your next gig and leave this situation behind.

Personally, I would try to hand in my resignation before the interview is due to happen so that the manager would have to look for another resource to put on a project. If you still are put on the project, anything you do is likely to burn at least some bridges. Burning bridges with your manager is the most likely outcome and that means you almost certainly won't be able to use them as a reference in the future.

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    "It might not be taken that way by a potential employer however and thus it is best to leave it out." If a potential new employer doesn't view that decision in a positive light, then you're probably going to be much better off not working for them anyway. I also think inability to use that manager as a reference would be the last of my concerns in this situation.
    – reirab
    Mar 15, 2022 at 15:07
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I think the goals in a situation like this are:

  • make your own ethical positions clear (in a way that looks good for you)
  • avoid badmouthing previous employers (in a way that would make future employers nervous about being badmouthed in future)

There's obviously a slight tension, and you should find some wording you like. Perhaps:

  • "I was placed in a situation I was morally uncomfortable with, so I chose to quit"
  • "I was uncomfortable with certain tasks I was asked to do"
  • "There was a situation that required me to choose between acting unethically, or quitting, so I chose the latter".

I'd probably try to round it off with something positive, along the lines of "Up until then, it was a good working environment, I learnt lots of things" etc.

I don't think there's any need to go into specifics, nor should they expect you to.

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  • "I was uncomfortable with certain tasks I was asked to do" - sounds vague even fishy, what kind of tasks didn't you want to perform? Mar 21, 2022 at 17:01
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Keep in mind that you want to be who you are. I see a lot of advice about how to behave so that new employer likes you. The point, though, is to find a reasonable employer that fits you.

So I would suggest you to be honest that you have some ethical boundaries that you do not cross. Do not be negative, just state facts. If they ask you, then say that you were forced to do unethical actions, you can explain more if they want.

If you hide why you left when asked, that may:

  • sound strange and raise concerns in the new employer
  • get you to an employer with similar unethical practices

If new employer is any good, your honesty and ethics will be appreciated.

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In interviews for a new company (not the client), can I mention about the unethical practices of the company when they ask "Why did you quit ?"?

Yes, if asked directly, you should respond directly: "you felt uncomfortable in the previous role as you were being misrepresented to their clients and were allocated work that was grossly outside of your experience." Follow that up with something like "I am seeking a role where I feel valued for my experience have the opportunity to become a key contributer".

How can I make sure that the unethical behavior of the current company does not in any way hamper my career?

It really shouldn't affect things in the long run, you could omit the experience at all from your CV, listing the short term role will raise a few questions but if you are honest and stand up for your personal values then this can be easily turned around into a positive.

I would suggest that in your case, you are right and justified in quitting. It will not help you as a person to work in a dishonest or non-supporting environment, toxic work environments make some people stronger, but many will feel chewed up, will not have learnt the skills necessary for their next role and often lack self confidence. If you don't feel comfortable, then get out, there are so many other jobs out there.


A key element of the interview process is that you are assessing the client as much as the client is assessing you. Even if you have pressure to make sure you win the job, your job throughout the interview is to ascertain if you or your company has the ability to fulfil the requirements of the client.

If you have a team to help you, you still must remain honest, but you are not just representing yourself, you are offering the experience (to a degree) of the collective. If you (with the support of your team) do not have the knowledge in a particular area, call it out by saying something similar to "I haven't directly worked with that <insert framework here>, but I have worked with <insert something similar> and I have a team behind me that can assist if I need to bounce some ideas". It's not a lie, but in some cases it might be reassuring enough to the client to get the job. In this case you are doing the right thing by your client and your employer.

  • the right thing swings both ways, if you secure a contract but are later unable to fulfil it, then that will be bad for you and for business, either it will end in non-payment or some form of compensation, so there is no value in winning a job that you know cannot be serviced.

If the only issue is 2 vs 4 years experience, but you do work with Java day to day and you do have the support of your team to fall back onto, then from the client's point of view, you really have the combined years of experience from your team behind you. It feels wrong on one level, but if you legitimately have access to the rest of your team, as well as a personal drive to learn and improve your Java then that should be enough for what the client requires in many cases.

I would have the negotiation with your employer, "If I get this, you need to make sure john will be available to back me up" (where John is the guy who actually has the 4 years experience.)

If there is no such support or experience at all and you know it is required for the project then just shut that down, you could mention that your experience is limited to general help desk, evaluating stack traces and locating and logging issues. That might be a lie, but it will send the right message to the client.

You can use other phrases to play it down if asked directly, like "on and off" or "when required" These can be red flags when the client hears them, keep in mind the client knows that just about everyone exaggerates on their CV, even to the point where if you haven't listed some elements, that is more telling than the fact that you included it in your CV at all. After working for 20+ years in the field, 2 vs 4 years is not a lot, sure it's double, but not significantly enough to warrant concern, as long as you personally have been working in computer science industries for 4 years. (that's only 2 rounds of COVID-19 lockdowns in Melbourne ;) )

I don't condone outright lies; just make sure you do not over commit to what you with support could achieve. If you need to avoid blame being attached to you then just be honest when asked if you can do something or not. Tell the client if it is new if you are interested in it, or if you are not, why not. If you only have 2 years and they are expecting 4, suggest that you worked with it solidly for 2 years, but recently have focused on something else.

It is a balancing act, and I know that I'll attract a few downvotes for this, but there is a lot of value in the fact that you are working as part of a team. That is often a cheaper source of experience than many clients are willing to pay for. Just keep it honest and when the questions get hairy, fall back to the "team" speak.

If your supervisor has that level of faith in you, take comfort in that, this is probably an assessment that they make often. They have decided that you can do this and your worth is similar to what a client who is asking for 4 years of experience should be able to expect. You will be forced to jump into the deep end every now and then. Your supervisor thinks you are ready for this.

If you know that you cannot achieve the client's requirements and you do not want to be held liable, but you want to do the right thing, then you can throw the interview either by being deliberately vague when asked specific questions or keep redirecting the questions to a response that you know is opposed to the client's requirements, perhaps by overemphasising a vendor the client does not agree with. In this case if they still pick you, they have made their own assessment that on the balance of everything else, they would still like to work with you. They would still like to invest in you and your personal development.

If/once you get the job, just be honest the whole way. If you do not understand something, then ask for help or clarity. If you need more time, then ask for it. 2-4 years experience is not the same as 2 vs 20 years. Be open in your communication and let the client make up their own mind as to your success in this role. If it fails, learn from it and move on. The interview is only the start of the relationship, if you keep everything honest from your part, you will only be held liable for how you conduct yourself as you complete the work.

If they pull you up on lack of experience, just say that you haven't come across that particular scenario before. That happens a lot and is acceptable.

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  • Yes. I had accessed everything you said. But, the thing is , say I had 2 yr of exp. in PHP or Mean steack, but company showed 4 years. This is highly managable in my end. But, the company forced me into 4 years of Java which is a very different field. I dont know even the J of Java if you know what I mean. That draws two possible out comes that I mentioned in the question.
    – Asish
    Mar 17, 2022 at 5:04
  • Also, none of the team members in this project know Java. Even the Team lead responded by saying that Manager should not have fake experience of Java against a person who has exp. in other field.
    – Asish
    Mar 17, 2022 at 5:05
  • Fair enough, I missed the bit where there was NO java or support, and focussed more on your example references. Mar 17, 2022 at 6:17

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