Top excuses employees use to cover up going for an interview elsewhere



New SEEK research reveals the most common excuses employees use to attend a job interview.


Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever before, and with that mobility comes a complex range of issues relating to staff retention. The fact is that even the best and most loyal staff will occasionally scan the horizon for something new. They may be genuinely unhappy, or just curious about what else is out there. Either way, some will apply for other jobs and land an interview. But don’t expect them to fess up, because a new study by SEEK shows many will try to make sure their employers know nothing about it.

The SEEK research, which surveys 4000 New Zealanders that are representative of the workforce each year, found that one in five employees admit to lying about where they are when going for a job interview.

Top line survey results


As it turns out, most employees will not waste their talent inventing elaborate stories to explain their whereabouts. In fact, the fibs told are positively mundane – which is probably just as well at a time when they don’t want to attract attention. Below are the top 10, extremely boring, excuses New Zealanders confess to using to cover their tracks.

  • I had a medical appointment (25%).

  • I was feeling sick, was ill or injured myself 21%).

  • I had an external meeting away from the office (12%).

  • The car broke down (7%).

  • Just took annual leave (5%).

  • I had a family emergency (3%).

  • I had a non-medical appointment (3%).

  • My pet was sick or injured (2%).

  • I had a maintenance issue at home, e.g. plumber or house inspection, etc. (2%).

  • I had a sick or injured child or other relative (1%).


Male vs female – when it comes to interview honesty, women are the fairer sex. The SEEK study found that male employees were more likely than female employees to lie about their whereabouts, with 22% of men doing so, compared with 17% of women.

Age – employees most likely to not tell the truth are aged between 25 and 34 years old, with 33% admitting they had told their employer a fib about a job interview. Those least likely to lie were in the 35–44 year-old age bracket, with just one in eight (13%) feeling the need to conduct a story.

Pay bracket – interestingly, people in the lowest pay bracket were found to be the most honest when it came to not lying about attending an interview. Just 9% of people earning less than $30k said they had lied to their boss about attending a sneaky interview.

In contrast, those in the $100k+ earnings bracket were the biggest fibbers, with 30% admitting to moral gymnastics while playing away from their current workplace.


If you suspect that something is amiss with your top talent, read our advice on how to stop star employees shining elsewhere.

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SEEK Insights & Resources New Zealand

SEEK is the destination of choice for job-seekers and hirers in New Zealand, acting as the conduit between hirers looking to fill vacant roles and candidates looking for work across many and varied industries. SEEK's mission is to help people live...

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