6 Unrealistic Promises You’ll Hear During the Hiring Process

Candidates aren’t the only ones who may sometimes stretch the truth during the hiring process. Hiring managers often promise unlimited budgets, ample resources, creative freedom and rapid promotions to entice top technologists into joining their company.

To make sure you don’t get duped by hiring managers who might overhype a position, here are some representations and promises you should carefully examine during the interview process.

“You’ll Be Changing the World.”

Hiring managers often pitch the opportunity to perform valuable, meaningful work as a way to attract millennials, many of whom have expressed a preference for purpose over pay, explained Tracey Parsons, founder of Parsons Strategic Consulting.

Sometimes, they exaggerate the importance of the company’s mission and the job to create a sexy employer brand. Meanwhile, research shows that multiple factors play a role in defining a meaningful job. 

Parsons suggests that you use reverse behavioral interviewing techniques to uncover the truth. “Ask the interviewer how he is defining ‘meaningful work,’” Parsons suggested. If he keeps ‘fluffifying’ the job as you dig deeper, he is obviously stretching the truth to create a more favorable impression.

“You’ll Be Leading a Strategic Project That’s No. 1 on the Priority List.”

Unfortunately, technologists often discover that senior management is not on the same page when it comes to setting priorities once they start a new job, observed career coach and consultant Stacey Lane. Or they find themselves assigned to a languishing project that has been a “so-called’ top priority for years.

Worse, after they get over the initial shock, the unsuspecting new hires find that promises of workplace visibility and career advancement have been broken, too. “It’s hard to change history,” Lane noted. “So, be sure to ask what phase the project is in and how long it has been a priority to verify the hiring manager’s claims before you accept an offer.”

“You’ll Be My Go-To Person for the Future.”

It’s a red flag when a manager claims that he was brought in to change the culture and that he needs someone like you on the team to carry out his mission.

Again, unless he has the support of senior management, your renegade boss could be facing significant headwinds. History shows that he may be fired or transferred within a matter of weeks or months, leaving you stranded.

While it can be difficult to vet a cultural makeover initiative that may not have been shared publicly, talk to current and past employees to get a better sense of the culture in the organization. Is there a great deal of turnover? Does the company reorganize frequently and, if so, why? Are you facing a great opportunity or a risky situation? 

Also, make sure to ask how long your boss has been in his position before you commit to a specific person rather than the organization.

“We Have a Flat Organizational Structure; You’ll Only Be Two Levels Away From the CEO.”

Since part of your job would involve interfacing with the CEO if this claim is true, ask how often you will be meeting with her. Also, ask specific questions about how processes work or how decisions are reached, as well as how project planning takes place, to see if the organization’s structure is really flat.

“We Have Unlimited Vacation.”

Lots of companies claim to have awesome perks such as unlimited PTO, Parsons noted, but it is important to do a reality check.

“Ask the hiring manager how much vacation he took last year,” Parsons suggested.

You need to have a conversation about vacation use and how the policy is put into practice to see how much time off you can realistically expect to take. Most managers and teammates have an acceptable number of days or weeks in mind—even if those expectations haven’t been openly communicated.

“We’re Offering You a Better Job Title.”

Some employers will try to woo you into accepting the exact same job and duties as your current position by offering you a bump in title.

“They think that you will jump at the opportunity to be a hands-on director, for instance,” Lane said. “However, once you start, you realize that you’re still a systems administrator.”

To avoid accepting a promotion that is not a promotion, always review the job description and your day-to-day responsibilities to make sure the job title, duties and salary match.