The Truth About Everyone Lying In The Interview Process

I’d be lying to you if I said everyone throughout the interview process is honest. The cold hard truth is that people will lie or embellish the truth. This holds true for hiring managers, human resources, recruiters and job seekers.

Interviewing is like a beauty contest. You need to show your best side. Just as a person enhances their photo and profile on a dating app, and is almost unrecognizable when you finally meet for dinner, this happens all the time in the hiring game.

The Job Description
It starts with the job description. Let’s look at what’s not on it. The advertisement doesn’t talk about the hiring manager, their quirks, idiosyncrasies, bad disposition and tendency to fire people in a pique of anger. What happened to the last three workers who held this job? Why aren’t they there any longer? Somehow the author of the job descriptions left out this critical piece of information.

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Sometimes, it’s a lie by omission. Conveniently, the company leaves out that it’s in a steady decline and planning massive layoffs in the near future. Not mentioning long hours, the absence of raises and bonuses, turnover of employees, a tyrant boss, and gossipy backstabbing co-workers is unfair and misleading to the job applicant.

The Résumé
There was a period of time in which you ran into bad luck and had three jobs within one year. You left this off the résumé, hoping no one would notice by playing with the dates, using months instead of actual dates, to gloss over it. The skills, experience, responsibilities and achievements listed—to put it politely—are slightly exaggerated.

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The job seeker takes complete credit for a lot of wins that they weren’t really involved with. The year of your college graduation is left off to protect your age. Certificates from prestigious universities are positioned to make the reader think that you graduated from the college, whereas it was only a summer course. The applicant writes the résumé as if they ran the company, attributing all sorts of accomplishments to themselves.

You’ll never read a résumé that states, “I’m not a morning person, so I usually come in late. But don’t worry, as I’ll always have a convenient excuse. Since I do this all of the time, I’m pretty good at sounding believable.” The résumé writer also neglects to mention that they are only interested in the job because the company has a great name recognition and will use it to get a better role at another company after only staying a year or two.

The Recruiter
You would like to believe that recruiters will share all of the mission-critical details about the job you are interviewing for, including all of the potential pitfalls. Sadly, this is not the case. Most recruiters are decent people. However, keep in mind that they have a job to do, which is basically headhunting.

Just as real estate brokers focus on the beautiful features of a home and forget to mention the leaky roof, rusted pipes, black mold in the walls and creepy neighbors, recruiters sometimes inadvertently leave out a few essential points.

For example, it may slip their minds to inform you that punishingly long hours are expected of you, there’s a glaring lack of internal advancement, high employee turnover rate and you’ll be stuck with the same salary for years. They may also neglect to tell you that the company has plans to relocate the role to another city across the country. The title offered, which sounded important, isn’t valued at all and your office is merely a cubicle outside of the bathroom.

Human Resources
Have you ever wondered why you don’t get feedback on interviews and are ghosted? It’s not easy to tell a job seeker the truth in this current environment. The job seeker, after hearing a detailed rationale as to why they weren’t selected, may interpret this as some sort of discrimination. The applicant may then complain to the person’s boss, file a grievance with a regulatory agency and possibly sue the company.

There is such a large volume of job seekers, especially in this environment, so it’s nearly impossible to get in touch with everyone. But saying this to a person doesn’t feel right. It’s also really hard to tell someone, “Sorry, we’re going with another person.” It is much easier to simply ghost the candidate and hope they get the message. Similarly, it’s not comfortable to say to a job seeker who interviewed with 10 people over the course of six months that they have already decided on an internal employee for promotion into the job and only met with you and others to serve as comparisons.

The Hiring Manager
If the boss likes the candidate, everything about the job is awesome. They’ll turn on the charm and sell the job seeker on all of the wonderful things that they can accomplish at the company. What’s left out are the long hours, low pay, no promotions and how the supervisor hogs all of the credit and accolades. While the manager pretends to be a great guy, it’s only three weeks into the job and you learn that he’s actually a sociopath and takes delight in making your life miserable.

I’ve seen this and much worse happen over the last two decades. This in no way insinuates that everyone acts this way. You should bear in mind that there will be people that won’t be completely honest and transparent with you. Sadly, everyone in the hiring process has to have a healthy amount of skepticism.

The antidote to little white lies and big whoppers is to conduct a lot of due diligence on the company and the people with whom you’ll interview and later work with. As you interview, you should ask hard-hitting questions to ascertain the real deal and truth.

Ask your friends, co-workers and people in your network if they possess any insider intelligence on the company and its employees—particularly the hiring manager. Read up about the company. Conduct in-depth internet searches to discover any and all relevant information that could impact your decision to accept the job offer.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll always avoid falling for something that’s not what you expected. By asking tough questions, doing extensive research and seeking advice from others, the odds will be greater that you won’t accept a position or hire someone based on falsehoods.

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