People Share Times 'Fake It Til You Make It' Backfired Spectacularly

People Share Times 'Fake It Til You Make It' Backfired Spectacularly

"Fake it until you make it," they say. So many people think BS-ing projects, work, and other major tasks is a skill. Often, they learn the hard way that it is much better to actually know what you are doing.

Below are some stories when faking it goes wrong. Lied on a resume? Made up a skill that you don't actually have? Told your date some outlandish tale? These are stories of embarrassment, absurdity, and just how far a lie can go. Make sure you make it to #1 before you add Harvard to your resume to get that dream job, all the while knowing you've never even been to Massachusetts.

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40. Teacher of the year

I taught some anatomy and physiology labs to pre-nursing majors. These girls knew more about anatomy and physiology than I did. I'm an expert in ecology, but somehow I got the job of teaching this class. I figured I'd just look at the answers on the worksheets as the semester went on.

When I finally got the student feedback, it was a blow to my sense of confidence. About half of them did indeed notice that I had just been looking at the worksheet answers.


39. Perfectly fluent

I hired a mandarin translator for a game I'm developing.

Ran her translations through google translate, to find they were a good match. TOO good a match.

Showed it to a friend of mine who's from China, told me the translator just google translated everything and that the end result was barely comprehensible.

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38. Doing the adult thing

Went to visit my older cousin in a big city (small town girl). Before going out, he told me that the friends we would be meeting are super snobby, and would probably make fun of me if I told them I was from SmallTown-A (today I would tell him to get better friends, but when I was 18 I just wanted to fit in). We agree I would tell them I'm from City-X.

So the blonde bombshell in the group (6 years older) starts talking to me while my cousin and his friend head off to buy shots. "Where are you from?"

'Uuhm... City-X'

"OMG, me too!" She proceeds to ask me which school I went to, which coffee shop was my favorite and where my parents work - just making polite conversation. Of course, I do the adult thing and confess make up an entire fake life story.

My cousin gets back to the table with the shots and I have never been more grateful for the opportunity to put them in my mouth and stop words from coming out. At seeing me knock back my shot like an animal, my cousin forgets our cover story and loudly proclaims, "Good god! You don't have to drink like you do in SmallTown-A, just chill!"

I did not look at Bombshell for the rest of the night. I have seldom wanted the earth to swallow me as much as I did in that moment.

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37. Find a new one

I play the piano, not well, but decently. I can't sightread, but I can practice from notes and play a piece of music. My friend was studying music in college and needed to find a piano player to accompany her during class. I told her I could do it because I played piano, but I didn't really understand what that meant. I assumed I'd be able to practice the music beforehand.

They wanted someone to be able to play a piece of music on the spot, sight unseen while she sang. I couldn't do it. I faked it for two sessions and the instructor told my friend she had to get another accompanist because I was not good enough. I felt like a jerk.

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36. Bend it

I was 8 years old and I told my dance teacher I could do a backbend (I couldn’t) so she moved me up a level in acro and put me in a special role for our recital. For the next week, my mom tried to help me get a backbend but it wasn’t happening and I had to come clean.

Luckily she didn’t get too mad. I had to move back down a level, but I still got to keep my special role!

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35. Not quite there

A few years ago I got a job interview after months of looking. I was desperate. I thought I was going to be working in the mail room for the City but when I arrived it turned out it was for delivering mail between City offices. Okay, no big deal, I can do that. Well, in my province we have G1 (Learners), G2 (Still have some restrictions about when/who you can drive with) and G (Full License).

Well, I needed my full G for the job but hadn't gotten around to doing the test. No big deal, I thought, I'll just go along and schedule a test ASAP, hopefully before any paperwork needs to be done. So I went through the interview and I think I'm home free, but no. They want to do a driver's test right then and there, and I need to present my license to the testing company.

Thinking quick, I tell them I don't have my license on me. Well, they need it and they were willing to find a City employee to drive me back out to my house (~30 mins away) and get it. Backed into a corner I finally have to admit that I don't have my G license. I blurted it out and basically ran out of the office and didn't look back.

Still one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

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34. Work smarter...

Okay, I guess it ultimately didn't backfire, but it's a pretty good story I was told in film school eons ago. Back in the 80/90s, a guy snagged an interview for a camera operating job at a TV production company that was way above his experience level. The interviewer gave him a camera, said "Okay, take this apart and lay it all out for me. You have 20 minutes," and left him there.

After panicking for a minute, he walked down the hall, found a technician working and asked him to take apart the camera for him, which he did. Interviewer comes back, says, "Good work. Now put it back together," and goes off to put out some other fires.

Our guy tracks down the tech, who obliges again, and he was hired. When I heard this story the guy had worked in the field 15 or so years so I guess things worked out.

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33. Cheers

Got a part time job as a bartender to help with bills. Told them I knew how to bar-tend. I can pour a drink so I just figured I'd pick up the rest as I went along. First week I was serving to get to know the menu and someone called in sick.

Owner makes me bar-tend. So I'm doing fine, just brews and a few mixed drinks. Then a party of about 40 people coming from a wedding come in and starts asking for all these different shots, different specialty drinks, etc.

Totally pooed my pants.

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32. Ghost writer

A writer I know decided he could make easy money writing romance novels under a false name, even though he didn't like romance novels at all.

Turns out it wasn't that easy, but he was very good at it and got stuck writing romance novels for a living for a while, hating his job and not having time to write anything he actually wanted to write.

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31. The prodigy

I took orchestra in elementary school and I eventually realized that I was just not going to understand violin. But I still wanted to be in orchestra because it had some perks. So, whenever we had lesson I put my fingers over the strings and moved my bow around like I meant it. When we had to play individually, I had to do it for real. I thought maybe, by some miracle, I’d get it and play normally.

I didn’t.

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30. Fear the audit

I work as an accountant with a theatre background. I'm 6 years in and I'm working solo with no one above me in the company besides the owners. I have an audit, a 16 million dollar LOC to acquire, and another company we just purchased.

This is the tipping point I'm sure.

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29. Future CEO

I knew a girl who would apply to jobs she was unqualified for, including a job at NASA and at Apple. She lied about her qualifications on her resumes. She landed several high paying jobs, but would get fired after a month or two once her coworkers realized she did not have the skills to fulfill her duties. She would boast on Facebook about how she landed her dream job every few months. Not sure what she's doing now since I haven't spoken to her in years. I believe she moved to another country.

Oh, and she took credit for the Mars Rover and for The Beatles on iTunes.

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28. Meathead

A senior back in my high school used to talk about how tough he was and how he was a black belt in karate and had plenty of boxing experience. He even brought his black belt (which I'm convinced, wasn't actually his) to school one day to show it off.

He eventually got the reputation of someone who was not to be messed with. He was a beefy guy, sort of a meathead.

Anyhow, fast forward a bit and he was having a heated argument with this sophomore in the hallway. People were gathering all around to watch the drama unfold. Things escalate, and he pushes the sophomore kid hard. The sophomore immediately responds with a punch square to the senior guy's nose.

He drops like a sack of potatoes. And then this black belt karate expert starts crying. I would like to tell you that this was the end of the fight. But it wasn't. He gets back up, blood dripping from his nose and swings at the sophomore with quite possibly the worst punch I'd ever seen. Tears and blood are dripping off his face as he's throwing some huge toddler tantrum, just swinging his arms like a windmill and missing every punch.

Some teachers came and broke up the fight and both of them got suspended. The guy never bragged about his fighting experience again after that and sort of flew under the radar for the rest of the year.

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27. Monkey brains

I once talked my way into an internship with a neuroscience lab that regularly implanted devices into monkeys' brains as an undergraduate.

Luckily this did not result in any dead monkeys, as I had only been brought on to help process their data. However, the issue was that they were using MATLAB and I had vastly overplayed a basic understanding of Python gleaned from a side project on algorithms back in high school. They also simultaneously tried to give a crash-course in neuroscience to little old freshman me, so I could be vaguely familiar with the data I was working with (fun fact: brain surgery is not easy to learn).

Yeah, I was politely asked to leave after about two or three months of banging my head against the wall. Pretty sure I wasn't able to contribute a single line of code or useful data analysis to their project.

I did get a cool ceramic monkey mug out of it though, which was nice.


26. Italian romance

Telling a girl that was studying Italian that I was an Italian speaker. I knew JACK about Italian language and I was using translators online. We were just texting so I just wanted to kinda impress her a bit.

Turns out she was REALLY impressed and into me just because of that. Like, "OMG I FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE WHO I CAN PRACTICE MY ITALIAN."

I had to confess I was just playing around with an awkward smile on my face.

Never texted me again.


25. One step further

In high school, our music teacher CONSTANTLY told us to fake it till we make it when it comes to working through a piece of music.

One day we were having a playing test, and a particularly unskilled student decided to take it to a new level. He reached the part in his piece that he couldn't play, and elected to SING the notes through his tuba instead.

The teacher wasn't fooled for a moment.

But it was great for a laugh!

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24. Perfect shot

My first internship in the soccer industry. I had trained on a camera but not used one in years.

He asks me to line up the shot and I can't see a THING through the camera, but I panic and say it looks good.

He said, 'Well that's impressive given I haven't opened the lense.'

It was clearly a test, and I was gone before the day was out.


23. A future in politics

In 2nd grade, I had to give an oral book report on The Duck Who Thought He Was a Watchdog. I did not read it and was just making up everything. My teacher obviously knew I was lying, and kept asking me questions about it, and I kept making stuff up.

Eventually she had enough of it, and slammed the book down on the ground and yelled at me in front of everyone.


22. Fracture

I hurt my right arm in 7th grade and the nurse thought (it was at a urgent care clinic) I had a hairline fracture, so he gave me a sling and a note for school letting me leave every class 5 min early and skip PE. Next day, my mom got a call saying it wasn’t really fractured and I didn’t need the sling.

WEEEELLLLLLL, I didn’t wanna do PE and I liked leaving class 5 min early so I continued to wear the sling for a month and a half and I didn’t tell anyone I was fine. I was so committed that I started writing with my left hand (originally a rightie) so I could take notes.

Then my mom picked me up from school one day before school ended, and was SUPER ANGRY. She threw the sling out and I got the beating of a lifetime.

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21. The transporter

My buddy works for a big company that makes stuff for the military. They have to transport satellite sensors back and forth to a testing lab in like Salt Lake City or some place, but its a plane ride there. Well, they hired this engineer because he listed expert for shipping and transporting sensitive equipment.

So, his main job is basically going to be transporting and testing satellite sensors. First trip, he has his box with sensors as a carry-on for the plane, because, you know, sensitive sensors. Well, he tries to stuff it in the overhead, but its too big. So the flight attendant says he has to check it. So he does. He just basically handed some super expensive, and very fragile satellite sensors to people who kick suitcases for fun. He gets to Salt Lake City, and shows up with the sensors and their checked bag thing still on the box.

Other engineers at the lab tell him all the sensors are worthless, and a few are broken. He flies back, and boom, fired. According to my buddy, he should have just bought an extra ticket for the box of sensors, and sat them next to him.

It was pretty funny because apparently there were a few other things on his resume that he lied about.

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20. Astronomy expert

My sister wanted to work at a summer camp, but had no "campy" skills. Lied on her resume saying she knew a lot about constellations/stars (I had worked at the camps previously and this particular subject was never brought up, so she thought she was safe).

Welp, now that they had an expert on staff they wanted to take advantage!

She had to come clean (not sure what she said but she wasn't fired.)

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19. Honest mistake?

Every Christmas we would go my Grandma's house and spend Christmas there. She had various toys around and a few in particular were spinners. They were basically plastic cones with a peg sticking out of the bottom. You would simply spin them on the point of the cone similar to like a bey-blade. The spinners were some of my favorite toys at Grandma's house.

So in first grade we're learning about different religions, cultures, etc. Up comes the topic of the Jewish religion. The teacher is explaining that around the Holidays, Jewish people would spin Dreidels and celebrate Hanukkah. She then asks if anyone is Jewish so we can learn more about their culture.

I raise my stupid little hand thinking the little plastic spinners I was spinning at Grandma's house must make me Jewish.

She proceeds to ask me questions like if we celebrated Christmas, etc. A lot of other questions too which I probably answered like an idiot and confused the heck out of her, but the rest of the class was learning from this "experience".

It wasn't until a few months later that my mom comes home from a parent teacher conferences and is like... "Why did you tell your teacher you were Jewish?"

I'm just like... we're not?

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18. Fast climber

I was hired by a Fortune 500 hospitality company (a major hotel company) as a front desk agent (the ones that check you in and out). I did it for about a month, put in a transfer to this brand new hotel that was desperate to find a manager that would stay (in the first 4 months they had gone through 2 general manager and even more front desk managers). I got hired, made 2nd in control of the entire hotel, and a month later when the next general manager quit, I was promoted to general manager.

So in 2 months I went from making $8.25/hr to $80k/yr.

I was in way over my head and I managed to fake everything being okay for an entire year before they figured it out and fired me.

It took Hilton an entire year to realize they put a complete idiot in charge of one of their top 50 hotels.

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17. Reader of the month

So at our elementary school there was this book club that did competitions and had meetings every Friday. My friend's mother told her to sign up for it and she forgot about it and missed the deadline to sign up. So, for 7 months straight she pretended to be in the group and had her mother buy the books the club was reading (the school was supply the club with the books).

It was all going perfectly until her mother learned a big competition was coming up and she had to write an essay to try out for the team (it was mandatory). So, her mother went to the library and asked the lady for the essay prompt and date of competition. The library employee then told her that her daughter had never signed up and she had wasted money on books my friend would never read/need again.

It took a while for her to earn her mother's trust back.

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16. Like a rock

The neighbor's child was too sick to attend a meet, so they asked if my sister could stand in for her on the grade school swim team. My sister said yes. My sister couldn't swim.

My sister made a beautiful dive off the diving block with the rest of the competitors, then sank to the bottom of the pool.


15. Looks can only go so far

Had a job years ago where it was very complicated, technical programming work where the software was used for sequencing the human genome. They hired this cute little thing right out of college. The boss asked me to show her the ropes of what we were doing on my project.

Turns out, she got through her programming course by flirting with guys and getting them to give her all the answers, and she got through the interview by flirting with the HR guy. She sat down and stared at the code like it was ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. She didn't even know what a constructor was. I very quickly realized she was hoping to get me to walk her through every little function and procedure she had to work on all day every day. That lasted only half an hour before my own work was getting behind, and I told her she'd have to just figure it out on her own.

She sat there for three days just staring at the screen and scrolling up and down the source code window, randomly clicking things. When the boss asked her what she'd gotten done so far, she tried to lie and say she'd done a lot, but he'd actually written the code she was working on and he could plainly see she hadn't changed a thing.

He gave her a quick quiz on the spot about basic programming fundamentals. After her third "I don't know... I'm not sure... -giggle, giggle" he told her not to come in the next day.

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14. Wrong answer

I applied for a sushi chef position at my local Wegmans. I was really desperate for a job, and I love sushi so I was really hoping for this position.

They did a phone interview and I told the interviewer that I was taking classes with La Cordon Bleu, which was a lie. So she proceeded to ask questions about my favorite recipes, favorite cooking shows, favorite restaurants etc. Then she asks me what my favorite type of knife to use in the kitchen is. I freeze up, because I really do not know anything about cooking. I don't know the names of any type of knives. So I say 'serrated...'

The woman interviewing me deserves a raise for not laughing hysterically and hanging up.

Yeah, I did not get the job.

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13. Smooth sailing until the end

In middle school, I signed up to play flute. But I ended up moving schools and the one I went to was way too advanced. I couldn’t actually play and only knew a few notes. So I’d sit in the back and make the face and move my fingers like I was playing. Until the end of the semester when solos came around and the teacher took us one on one into the piano room, and he realized I could barely play.

He was actually impressed I had made it that far.

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12. No way to fake it

My company hired a guy who cheated on all his python tests (computer coding). This became apparent within hours of his first day. They pulled him out of an orientation seminar to give him an exit interview before 3pm on day 1.

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11. Karma

When you meet your date that you where cat fishing and find out he's cat fishing you too.

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10. Weak stomach

One of my former labs hired a tech who claimed to have experience doing Davinci-assisted roux-en-y bypass in rats, and nearly a decade of experience as a lab technician.

Our principal investigator must not have vetted any of her claims, because not only did she not know how to handle animals at all, but she threw up the first time she saw a surgery. She didn't know even the most basic fundamentals... e.g. keeping exposed organs irrigated so they don't dry out.

She never completed a surgery successfully. Each attempt at a bypass cost about $1,800 in materials, mostly for the endocutter cartridges. She wasted tens of thousands of dollars and killed a few dozen rats before she was let go.

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9. Loyal friend

I was in the 5th grade and I failed my spelling test. I was supposed to have a parent sign the test to acknowledge that I told them, but I didn't. Instead, the next morning when my teacher was collecting the tests, I told him that I had already turned it in and he must have forgotten; I'm not sure why, but a friend confirmed that he had seen me turn in the test, so the teacher just mumbled, "I guess I just set it down somewhere and forgot." I was home free.

When I got back from lunch, my teacher said, "Did you know that your mom is substitute teaching at the school today? I ran into her in the teacher's lounge. About your test that you said you'd turned in..."


8. Easy mornings

In boot camp, we had a music program, ceremonial and honor guard. If we joined we could get out of morning PT. I told the company commander I knew how to play drums (which was true, I knew how to play rock and roll drums on an actual drum set, not percussion in an orchestra.)

I also didn't know how to read music. but 18 year old me thought "I got it!" I was in there for 4 days before the lead commander figured out I couldn't read music...

I've never done push ups for 45 minutes straight...until that day.

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7. Mr. Hollywood

I know this guy who wanted to be a movie-maker. He did a couple of small films with modestly low budgets, and they did okay. So then he went to LucasFilm and told them he was an auteur film expert who could handle both the script and directing of a giant "tent pole" blockbuster.

And they actually bought it!

Needless to say, he wasn't invited back.


6. 007

I was learning to scuba dive in Tahiti. I had had a few diving lessons, and I swear to God I thought I was a female James Bond just because I had been diving, in the South Pacific, surrounded by lots of sharks.

So I saw this place that was hiring out mopeds. Have I ever ridden a moped in my life? Nuh-uh. Have I ever had a lesson on a moped? Nuh-uh. But I have gone diving with sharks. Therefore, I am James Bond. Therefore, I can ride a moped. The conversation with the guy hiring out the bike was a) in French (not my first language) and b) a lot more casual than such a conversation would be back here in the UK, but I think I gave him to understand I was effectively a stunt woman.

After I had ridden the moped straight into a tree and torn a toenail off, thankfully without doing significant damage to the moped, I wheeled it back to the astonished assistant and said "J’ai changé d’avis, merci" (I changed my mind).

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5. BBQ competition

I'm kind of an "Of course I know that" kind of guy but mostly with inconsequential things.

We were having a cookout for our contractors at work and I said something like, "I'll bring my special BBQsauce" (which doesn't and has never existed), and my boss went, "Oh you make BBQ?"

To which I responded, "Of course I do!"

He continued, "Great! We'll have a sauce competition tomorrow!"

I spent a cool like 8 hours watching videos and reading BBQ sauce recipes trying to piece together one that I could make in like 20 minutes that had a chance of actually winning.

I botched the whole thing pretty hard but in the end made a passable sauce.

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4. Not so gleeful

When I was in sixth grade I did chorus. I eventually realized that I sound like absolute crap when I sing, so I started lip syncing to the sound of the other students. I made it look like I was singing by mouthing watermelon over and over again.

We had a holiday concert or something like that come up at the end of the year. I figured I could lip sync to the other students like I always did. But when I got there, there were only six students. Seven if you count me in.

So when we got up onto the little stage in the cafeteria, we started to sing some random song about loving each other or something like that. You could barely hear any singing, and I guess my chorus teaching realized I wasn't actually singing and gave me a stare that said, 'Imma 'bout to slap the crap outta you.'

So I started singing, but my voice cracked.

The kid standing next to me laughed. It was pretty embarrassing.

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3. Footprints

One of the managers of the maintenance department at one of my old jobs posted a job for a cleaner that paid higher than normal because that section of the building was bigger and also required some heavy lifting as well. They put preferred experience on the listing. Hired a guy that said he had 8 years of experience cleaning or something like that. Every day on the job for the first two weeks he mopped himself into corners that didn't have any exits and left dirty footprints diagonally across the rooms every time.

After someone watched him do it a couple of times they told him how you're supposed to do it (you mop the far sides of the room first, and make your way to the exit, I was a cleaner for a bit too), and after a while they checked the guy's background deeper and the company he worked for never existed.

After two months, he was walked out, and his excuse was that in his prior cleaning experience he only cleaned carpet, never had to clean tile floor.

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2. Real life Suits

A girl I went to law school with lied about being an attorney. She failed the bar exam but ended up getting a job about 2 weeks after she found out. She was hired at a public defender's office and they never asked for her bar license card. They eventually gave her cases to work on and she had completed about 40 plea deals. When the bar rolled around, she told the office that she had a funeral to attend; in reality she drove to the bar exam to take it.

She ended up failing again and went back to work like nothing happened. Eventually it was found out by a judge and a clerk who were trying to spell her name. That name was not the normal spelling. When the judge looked on the licensing website they found out she lied. Apparently she was so caught up she forged a licensure card, and now she is being charged with fraud and a host of other crimes.

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1. Its a medical condition

Whilst living in Brasil I convinced my Portuguese teacher that I was deaf in one ear. This was because I wasn't doing the work and she was getting annoyed constantly.

This led to an awkward parent teacher interview.

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