Here’s the problem: hiring authorities, no matter what they say, are afraid of hiring. They are afraid of making a mistake in hiring. For this reason, they are going to tell you as a candidate all kinds of cockamamie stuff. It’s not that these people really want to intentionally lie to you. They don’t. But they’re not sure of just exactly what they’re going to do in the hiring situation. I had an employer a number of years ago that told nine people in a row that he was going to hire them during their interview. Go figure.

For most employers, hiring is a very confusing, difficult thing. No matter how often they do it, they still have a problem with it. Think about it! If you are an accountant and you make a mistake you can go back to your computer and fix it or, at least, your pencil has an eraser on it. If you’re an engineer and somebody discovers that your design isn’t very good, you can go back and fix it. But when a poor candidate is hired, it doesn’t show up for five or six months, sometimes even a year. And what’s even worse, everybody in the company can see that a doofus has been hired. So, how does this make a boss look? You don’t need much of an imagination to figure this one out.

This whole conundrum is embodied in the phrase “we don’t want to make a mistake!” So all kinds of things are used, not so much to hire the best candidate but, more importantly, not to make a mistake. And, when people “play” out of fear of loss rather than vision of gain, the pressure is increased.

On top of all kinds of relatively unnatural acts, like hiring consultants, psychologists, psychiatrists, administering psychological and aptitude testing, etc. most companies increase the layers of people to do the interviewing. 50% of the time the people that are doing the interviewing have absolutely nothing to do with the job itself. But, the attitude is, the more people we have involved in the process of interviewing, the less likely we are to make a mistake. (totally erroneous!). More than one or two people are involved in the interviewing process and, at least 20% of the time, they are not reading from the same page. Often times, people involved in the interviewing process have’t even spoken with each other very much about candidates and qualifications, etc.

just last month I was involved in in three situations where the people who were interviewing didn’t know all of what was going on or wanted people to perceive that they were hiring, but they wern’t. In one of these instances, the hiring authority who had been interviewing for four weeks got fired on the fifth week. His boss told me that the guy had been on a performance plan all along and knew that he was probably on his way out. The second situation involve a hiring authority who would drag to the process of hiring on for more than four weeks and then abruptly left the company. She knew all along she was going to be leaving the company but didn’t want to “raise any red flags” by not continuing to interview as though she was staying.

The third situation involved a hiring authority who was so confused about who to hire, he involved six different people in the interviewing process. Three of these people had absolutely nothing to do with the job itself but offered their opinions about candidates as though they did. We’ve been interviewing now for six weeks and we’ve been through close to 15 candidates. We explained to the hiring authority that we couldn’t keep doing this. He explained that the last two people that they hired were mistakes and that since he was afraid of making a mistake he wanted everyone’s “buy-in.”

These are extreme cases, but not far off from the ordinary hiring process…if there is such a thing as “ordinary.” You can just imagine with lots of people involved in the hiring process and with the fact that not all of these people are reading from the same page they are telling you as a candidate all kinds of different things. Just this last week, we had the hiring manager of one of our clients tell all of the candidates that he hoped to make a decision by last Friday. By the time our Candidates met with his boss, his boss told him that it was going to take at least  another month to make a decision. Someone has their story really messed up.

Some people involved in the interviewing process don’t even know why they are involved. They are often very uncomfortable with the whole thing and will often say things to a candidate that they really don’t know just to keep their conversation from being too awkward. The candidate doesn’t know that some of these people don’t know what they’re talking about, so he or she takes the information to be the truth. When it doesn’t happen, the candidate wonders why folks lied to him.

Well, they really didn’t lie. They just told them what they thought was true in the moment.

So, when you are “lied to” as a candidate you know why and how it happens.