Have you ever caught a candidate lying? Whether it’s work experience, education, or personal background, it happens all the time and we wrote a post about it last November. The common response, and rightfully so, is to immediately scratch that applicant from your list. They’ve proven themselves to be dishonest and, if they’re willing to try to sneak a fast one past you during the application process, there’s a good chance they’ll do the same once working for you.
Virtually every hiring manager will agree that lying or misleading is unethical but many will still lie to attract more applicants. This could be because they’re intentionally trying to deceive talent, but more likely, they just don’t realize they’re doing it. Take a second and ask yourself, are you being completely honest throughout the hiring process?
Even the smallest lies can have negative impacts on your company and perhaps the most common risk is high turnover. In the same way that employers lose all trust in a candidate after they catch them in a lie, a new employee may lose all faith in a company once they realize they’ve been had. Too many lies can have a negative effect on your company’s overall reputation.
What are the common ways companies lie to job applicants, whether it’s by accident or on purpose? We have identified five common areas:
Many job postings brag about having the fun-loving culture where everybody’s a family. They boast the cliché “work hard, play hard” mentality and say the environment’s “second-to-none” with plenty of work/life flexibility. Sure, this may seem most attractive, but if it’s not true, you’re going to hire people who don’t fit and possibly turn away those who would be perfect. If you have any mention of culture in your job postings (and we recommend you do), make sure that you properly qualify it. Take a look at this post from January and see if you can properly identify your culture.
Another common bait and switch employers pull is around compensation. If you’re being dishonest about the base rate or salary, you’re probably doing that consciously; numbers are pretty straight forward. You may not realize that you’re lying when discussing the extras. For example, is that bonus potential really achievable or will it take forever to get? Is your “excellent benefits and vacation package” really that “excellent?” When you say that the salary is negotiable based on skills, are you actually willing to negotiate?
- The Job Description
This one may take your new employee longer to realize, but they’re going to figure it out eventually. Review the job you’re promoting in detail and confirm that it is accurate to everything the person will be doing. Have tasks been added to make the job look more interesting, but not really reflective of the actual job? Are there tasks missing that you’re afraid will drive away applicants? Will you actually be providing all that training and guidance? Are you making promises about advancement that you’ll never see through?
- Rejection Lines
Your new employees will never suffer these lies, but the many candidates you turn away will hear them. If you use the lines “We’ll keep you in mind for future positions” or “We’ll call you as soon as we’ve made a decision”, make sure you follow through. Professionals will recognize these lies and, especially with social media being a reality of today’s business world, your reputation as an employer may be hindered when you throw these fake promises around.
This final lie is one that job seekers have come to accept as reality and, of everything on this list, may have the least impact on your reputation. It’s very common, and good business practice, for employers to go beyond contacting just the references supplied. Especially when the industry is small enough, hiring managers will go to their own network and seek unsolicited references. Sometimes the references handed over by the job seeker don’t even get called. However when you perform your reference checks, we recommend the same thing we recommend for everything else above — try to be as transparent as possible with your applicants and build trust from the beginning.
Do you lie to your applicants? Do you believe the above can even be considered lying or unethical? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Leave your comments below.