5 common lies that you should never be fooled by when applying to jobs

Susanna Kahr

It’s not just job applicants who sometimes cheat, lie, or conceal the truth in the job interview; HR professionals are common culprits of this behavior too, primarily by being much more flexible with the truth than they should be. Here are a few phrases that you might hear from an interviewer that you should be wary of, and what they really mean.

1. “The salary for this position is still unclear.”

To be honest, this sentence is a blatant lie. What company would advertise a job, for which they’ve determined a set of tasks and required skills and knowledge, without having made a decision about salary? As a general rule, employers are very aware of market salaries and are sometimes even required to indicate salary range before posting on certain job boards.

So, if you hear this phrase or something like it coming from a company you’re applying to, don’t be fooled. The intention behind this kind of statement that the “salary is unclear” is to put the job candidate into an insecure bargaining position and to see how much that candidate would demand for a salary, rather than being fully transparent about it, which isn’t really a nice position to put a potential hire in!

2. “The workload is working a lot now, but we’ll hire someone to help you in the next quarter.”

While not necessarily an outright lie, this phrase could still be an empty promise. This is especially true anytime an employer makes claims about their future hiring, yet isn’t able to verify it or “back it up” in writing (so that it’s binding).

Our tip for this scenario is if you want to hold a potential future employer accountable to statements or promises that you’re relying on to make your job decision, make sure it’s acknowledged in writing such as in your e-mails to each other. Also, if their promises have to do with their hiring process, you can get more information about the company’s hiring status by asking them how many new jobs were created in the last year. Remember, though, if your position has just been created, it is unlikely that another separate support position will be filled soon.

3. “You’re great, but we can only offer you a junior position for now.”

If you’re clearly qualified for a certain level role, but the company you’re interviewing for insists that they can only potentially offer you a more junior level position with a promise of a promotion in the near future, that may or may not be a red flag. Because just like the other loaded phrases we’ve already covered, if you hear this sentence in a job interview, all it does is show that this particular employer makes promises.

A potential employer should value you and your talent. Question any “promises” and again make sure everything exists in writing.

4. “The pay is not that high, but the benefits compensate for that.”

Free coffee and snacks, occasional free lunch, a company phone and laptop…of course, benefits like these are great extras and certainly no one in their right mind would refuse them. But, you need to ask yourself if you’d accept a few additional benefits in lieu of a good salary? This is a slippery slope if there ever was one. Because if a company is offering benefits at the expense of solid, competitive salary for their employees, it might just be that they’re selling their employees short. Generally, employers who truly value their team members will pay fairly AND add some great benefits on top.

5. “We’ll let you know this week.”

Once the interview is over, the waiting game begins…right?

In fact, it’s very likely that within minutes of completing your interview you’re checking your e-mail for updates from the company, keeping your gaze firmly fixed on your phone or computer screen. This is likely to continue  all week until you hear from the company you just interviewed at, because after all, they promised to get back to you this week!

Sorry to break it to you, but “we’ll let you know this week” turns out to be one of the most common mistruths in job interviews. Notice that we didn’t call this one an outright lie either; a lot of companies have good intentions and do actually want to get back to you in that one week time frame, but given the unpredictability of the hiring process and the number of steps, people, and decisions that go into it, that initial time frame for getting back to you isn’t always the same as they promised you.

We recommend giving the company a week longer, and then check in without being obtrusive. Whatever you do, though, don’t wait for weeks on end for this one opportunity – get out there and keep looking. After all, your time is too precious to sit on the bench and you’ll only make the emotional stages of the job search even harder for yourself.



Did you hear these lies during your recruiting process too? Tell us more about it in your anonymous employee review on kununu!


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