Lies That Employers Tell Candidates

It’s no secret that everyone is guilty of telling white lies. In most cases, we do it because we believe it benefits the recipient. And let’s be honest – it’s a whole lot easier than fessing up to the truth sometimes. But because we tend to hold employers to an impossible, god-like standard, most of us naively take every word out of their perfect, little mouths at face value. In reality, our blind faith is killing our chances of getting the job or winning that promotion. Pardon my candidness, but I felt it was about time I introduce some cold, hard truths hiding behind fluffy, white lies. Here are just a few examples to help you wake up and smell the coffee.



“We’re not really sure where we’re going with the position.” Sometimes it’s worded differently, such as “We may not fill the job right away,” but it all means the same thing: they don’t want you, plain and simple. If an employer is taking time out of his or her busy schedule to meet with you, it’s for a specific purpose – to find out if you’d make a suitable fit for a gap they’re experiencing within the company ranks. Instead of crushing your dreams, many employers simply pretend the position isn’t ready or exists in some vague, far-off future time. If they’re not – as the kids say – “vibing” with you, poof, it’s gone. Magic, isn’t it? My advice: take the time to reflect on the interview and figure out where it went wrong. Ask yourself: Did I effectively align my background to the demands of the role?

“You came in second place.” I can’t even begin to tell you how many people end up in “second” for the same position. For some reason, employers believe that it makes candidates feel better if they just ever so slightly missed the mark rather than totally tanked it. Here’s the truth: if you’re not getting an offer, there’s an obstacle that’s keeping you from closing the deal. You’re simply not making that connection. And by “connection” I mean you’re not realizing what the employer’s problem is and convincing them that you’re the solution they’ve been searching for.

“We’ll call you.” Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Despite pure intentions, most employers and hiring managers aren’t exactly known for their punctuality when it comes to the hiring process. An employer’s perception of time is completely different than a candidate’s. For example, an entire day in “real time” equates to an hour in “employer time.” As you’re approaching the end of the interview, ask the most appropriate manner in which you should follow-up. Instead, candidates often thank their interviewer and leave without finding out what the next step is.

“It’s not you, it’s me.” Also, phrased as “You’re great, but it’s just not the right match,” this famous lie never fails to make an appearance in my monthly repertoire of direct-hire placements. Here’s where you fell short – all growth companies are looking for the same thing: chameleons. Bottom line, you haven’t demonstrated your ability to fit into their company culture. In order to land the deal, you must show employers that you “get it” – that you understand the rigorous demands every company is facing and are considering it from their perspectives. If they don’t get that impression, game over.

“You’re overqualified / underqualified for the job.” An employer would never invite you to meet with him or her if he or she didn’t believe you were qualified for the gig. Something happened when you showed up, sat down, and opened your mouth. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, in a world of high turnover rates, you made them believe you were a flight risk. You need to make sure that you’re connecting your experience level to the position in a well-though-out strategic way. If a hiring manager fed you this line, you didn’t provide him or her with a reasonable explanation why this job makes sense to you at that point in your career.

“You’re salary level is fine.” This is code for several different issues. Employers are very outcome-driven. Before they sign the dotted line, they want to know that they’ll receive a return on their investment. So it could mean that you haven’t done a good job of providing them with that comfort. And it’s all in the data. Very few people bring concrete proof that they’re successful in their fields to the actual interview. Build a portfolio and be sure to highlight the most relevant parts, reinforcing how you can have the same impact (or better) to your new potential company. Also, make sure you investigate the compensation levels of the company you’re interviewing for rather than simply relying on the job description advertised online.

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