A recent survey from ResumeBuilder finds that nearly four in 10 hiring managers have lied to candidates to attract them to their organization.
By Maggie Mancini
The hiring process can feel daunting for job seekers, eager to present their best selves in the hopes of landing the role. And while it’s not uncommon for candidates to lie in job interviews to appear more attractive, research indicates that dishonesty on the employer’s side can be common as well. A recent study from ResumeBuilder finds that 36% of hiring managers – nearly four in 10 – say they’ve lied to candidates about the role or company during the hiring process.
Of this group, 75% of employers have been dishonest during interviews, 52% have lied in the job description, and 24% have misrepresented in the offer letter. While some say they are dishonest more frequently than others, with 6% saying they lie “all the time” while 25% say they don’t lie often, the vast majority (80%) of hiring managers say that lying is very or somewhat acceptable at their organization.
Before trying to combat dishonesty in the hiring process, it’s important to first ask why hiring managers feel they must lie to candidates to engage with them and hire them, says Stacie Haller, ResumeBuilder’s chief career advisor. If hiring managers are embellishing a role to make it sound better than it is, Haller says HR must address either the accuracy of the job description or support what is needed for those roles to be attractive without resorting to lying. In fact, 92% say they have misled a candidate to accept a job offer.
“Leaders need to develop talent acquisition and retention practices for hiring managers and find out what they feel they need in a job role to attract and retain talent,” Haller says. “To improve honesty and transparency in the hiring process, you need to remove any reason for anyone not to be honest.”
The study indicates that hiring managers most often lie about the role’s responsibilities (40%), growth opportunities at the company (39%), and career development opportunities (38%). Additionally, hiring managers admit they are dishonest about company culture (31%), benefits (28%), commitment to social issues (27%), the financial health of the company (26%), and compensation (24%), among others.
When asked why hiring managers lie to candidates, some say they do it to protect sensitive company information, while others say they have embellished benefits offerings to attract candidates or make the job sound better than it truly is.
“The challenge is the disconnect when HR is responsible for talent acquisition and the managers down the line are doing the hiring and feeling the heat for not bringing on candidates when they need to hire,” Haller says. “This can result in some lying, but we see from the survey that most leave within a short amount of time after being hired. This does not benefit anyone in the organization.”
In fact, 55% say they’ve had an employee quit quickly after realizing they were misled about the company and position. For retention, Haller says that HR needs to delve into their turnover data to discover where in their organization this may be happening and work with those managers for better hiring practices.
“People don’t want to work for a company that has lied to them, whether it’s about benefits or their job responsibilities, so most will leave,” Haller says. “As for retention, there are many ways organizations can work to retain employees. In today’s climate, the companies that engage with their workers on how they would like to work regarding return-to-office are the ones having the most retention and attracting talent.”
Hiring managers who lie to candidates are often not above ghosting job seekers either. Only 8% of hiring managers say they have never ghosted a candidate, while 7% say they do all the time, 30% most of the time, and 37% some of the time. While a plurality of hiring managers say the farthest a candidate got in the process before they were ghosted was an interview with just one person at the company (32%), 30% say the candidate had interviewed with multiple people, and 10% say they sent an offer letter before ghosting.
“In the past, employers may have felt that it didn’t really matter if they were ghosting, because it’s unlikely that other people would really know,” Haller says. “Today, of course, there are many places candidates voice their experiences in the interview process, and it’s easy to Google any company and get plenty of information. Unfortunately, we know those who are unhappy are often the loudest, but a company’s reputation can be hurt when potential talent is driven away.”
When it comes to lying during the hiring process, Haller says that ghosting should be approached the same way. HR leaders should find out who is doing the ghosting or lying, following up with candidates that have interviewed with their organization, and track all hiring manager interactions along the way. After this, HR can address and train those managers. If they can’t uncover who is lying and ghosting in their organization, HR could move to train and retrain all hiring managers.
“I wonder how those managers who are lying and ghosting would feel if they were the candidate, took a job and found out that it wasn’t what was told to them,” Haller says. “Maybe they wouldn’t do it to someone else.”
When it comes to combatting this phenomenon, Haller says that it’s important to note that 77% of the managers who responded to the survey are under 44 years old. This means that the group is relatively early in their management career and may not have the experience in hiring candidates. Because of this, HR can look at this cohost group and determine where more training is needed.