April 10, 2023

The Lies Employers Tell You During Job Interviews

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Job hunting has never been easy, but in recent years, the process has become a dystopian nightmare. Gearing up to look for a new position requires the sort of planning once relegated to military campaigns, and the sheer number of video interviews, live projects, and other work required of you before you get an offer is exhausting, and offers plenty of ways to screw up and ruin your chances.

Worst of all, candidates are often not treated particularly well. It’s one thing to be ghosted by a prospective employer—even after several interviews. But what about when you discover that recruiters and hiring managers have been straight-up lying to you throughout the process?

Just like the police, who are allowed to lie to you during an interrogation, recruiters and hiring managers can basically get away with saying anything they want. That’s due to two basic facts: Most job hunters are reluctant to challenge anything during an interview process for fear of losing the opportunity, and it’s difficult to hold an employer accountable for a an act of deception that’s a bit vague and difficult to pinpoint, and easily be attributed to miscommunication.

Knowledge is power, however, so knowing what a prospective employer might lie about during the interview process is half the battle. Here are the most common things a hiring manager or recruiter might fib about during the interview process:

  • Salary and benefits. Perhaps the most shocking thing employers will blatantly lie about is your compensation and benefits. These deceptions usually involve a bit of tricky math, like implying that the top of a salary range will be the base salary, only to later reveal that your experience level qualifies you for a much lower point in that range. Another common deception is including theoretical overtime or bonuses in a way that makes it seem like part of a base salary. Employers will also often describe their benefits packages using meaningless words like “competitive” or “robust,” or focusing in on one aspect of the benefits that is legitimately impressive while ignoring how weak the rest of it is. The key here is to ask specific, detailed questions—and do some research on the side. You can even reach out to current and former employees who had similar roles to see if any are willing to talk about their experiences in terms of compensation and benefits.
  • Keeping your resume “on file.” While it’s true that companies are generally required to keep records of their recruiting efforts—including the pile of resumes they harvested—this is also a common kiss-off from a recruiter or hiring manager. It’s a soft rejection that implies they believe you have a future with their organization when the fact is they will forget you exist the second they click “send” on that email. Your best strategy is to disregard this and proceed as if it’s not true—if they’re not lying, there’s no downside.
  • “I don’t want to take up too much of your time.” Companies famously don’t give a hoot about your time when you’re job hunting. Multiple interviews over the course of weeks, complicated projects that often feel like you’re getting scammed for free professional advice—the entire process screams “we actually don’t care about your time.” This sudden concern for your valuable time is a lie to cover up the fact that they’ve just decided you’re not right for this position. Move on, and don’t expect a follow-up.
  • “We haven’t already decided on a hire.” It’s a fact that companies often post “ghost jobs” that don’t actually exist. It’s also a fact that sometimes you’re being interviewed for a job just to provide cover for the fact that the company has already decided who they want for a particular role—or has possibly already hired someone for it. If a company is using you just to make it look like they did their research before going with a preordained candidate, they will absolutely lie to you about it.
  • “You’re free to work from home.” Remote work is controversial these days. Some companies know their potential hires want at least some sort of hybrid scenario that allows them to work from home some of the time, but they firmly believe this is just so you can engage in some light “time theft” and nap while earning a salary. For some companies, the answer is to simply lie to you and tell you that a job is partially or fully remote, or that you only have to come into an office X number of days a week—and then inform you otherwise once you’ve already invested a lot of time into nailing down the position.

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