I’m sure you’ve all heard a tale or two, or even experienced this firsthand, where an employer did not deliver on what they promised in the job interview. Frustrating and disheartening, employees who feel they have been lied to feel their trust towards their employer disintegrating while fervently looking for a quick exit.

Being lied to is never pleasant, but how big was the lie? A little white one or a whopper? Most of us could shake off having to take on an extra responsibility or two, but failure to deliver on a bonus structure may be beyond many of us, particularly if one worked extremely hard to reach difficult targets. Being rewarded for effort, especially when it was promised, is important. Making excuses after the fact as to why the bonus will not be given will leave an employee seething. And with just cause too. An employer has ample opportunity to communicate the retraction of the bonus, leaving this until after results have been achieved is just dirty tricks at play. What is the result?  Misrepresenting a job will not simply cause a new hire to look elsewhere for a role, but the expression of their negative attitude and a decline in their productivity could bring down an entire team. And that’s not good for anyone.

We don’t generally expect employers to lie to us, but they do. They embellish the truth to attract quality candidates, thinking that once they have the best hire working for their brand that operations within the organisation will improve and they can actually make good on their promises. Others misrepresent a role unaware that they are doing so. And it is very easy to do. Have you replaced a long term employee and used their original position description when advertising the role? How up-to-date was that PD? Business and job roles evolve over time, so it is best practice to revisit a position description before you pass it onto a candidate. And as the job description is the foundation of the hiring process, it is a clever idea to have your departing employee review the position description, updating the tasks and responsibilities expected of their successor. I say clever because no one has time to interview under qualified applicants, and no candidate wants to be set up to fail.

Unfortunately there are employers who deliberately misrepresent a role. The reasons why can be numerous. The company is in great financial trouble. The culture is broken. Sales have been plummeting for months etc etc etc. Yet a candidate need not only worry themselves with the ‘why’, but also with how to detect a fraudulent employer. One great method is to employ the very same tactic recruiters use to determine a candidates true value. Prepare a list of open ended behavioural questions that forces the potential employer to articulate more accurately how they intend to deliver on their promises. For example, you may want to know how a person in the role on offer can advance and how quickly they can do so. Your question to the interviewer may be; Can you give me an example of a person hired in the past two years in a similar role that has advanced their position here and explain how they achieved that? You may ask for a detailed explanation of the opportunities to receive further training by articulating this question; Can you identify the formal and informal training I will receive and may I speak to someone who has undertaken this training and discuss how they used this to their advantage? Frame your question to demonstrate sincere interest and then listen for the response. Did the hiring manager dance around the subject?

The ramification for misrepresenting a job can be costly. For an employer they face the risk of litigation and employees in this country have in recent years been successful in gaining compensation for a breach of their employment terms. Imagine, a candidate and their family moves interstate to take up a new job role, declining other genuine job offers. Do you think that the employer that delivered a ‘whopper of a lie’ to them should be held accountable for their actions? If an employee lied about their abilities and were found out, they would be dismissed. So beware, when hiring a new recruit that the job promised is what is delivered. No employee wants to be lured into a job role that is beyond their capabilities, nor do they wish to unwillingly find themselves in a job that is beneath them and risk losing their competitive edge and damaging their career.

Whether a job role is purposefully or accidentally misrepresented, or simply poorly communicated, a candidate can and should equip themselves with the tools to recognise a deceitful job advertisement. It is after all your future at stake so the onus to undertake the necessary research and ask the right questions is upon you. If you do so you will find the lies hidden among the truth, because as we all know not everything you read and hear is the truth.

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