A truth about an unspoken recruitment strategy


Wanting to attract the right person for a job is legitimate. There’s a very popular strategy you should avoid though. Unless you love getting into trouble.


Taken from “The Graduate”, this quote is quite similar to what crosses a candidate’s mind during a job interview. Precisely when a recruiter or hiring manager starts talking about the company s/he works for. Usually putting much emphasis on the bright and polished sides of what the employees there do. Most often, while skipping the unpolished and “still in need of some work” areas of the dire-company. “We’re very good at ____ (fill in the blank). We’re great at _____. In our field, we’re better than _____ (put in a competitor’s name). Etc..

Although the job interview’s outcome might be completely different from “The Graduate” one, your intention as a recruiter definitely resembles Mrs. Robinson’s own; use a set of arguments to charm and successfully seduce someone. So when decision time comes, “Hopefully that candidate will pick us. S/he’ll choose our company as her next employer… over our competitor.”

That’s what seduction and courtship are about. Getting someone to pick us.

Having to hire people yourself at times, you know that “getting picked” isn’t an easy goal to achieve.


When it has to happen though, your sales arguments play a big role. Not as much as how confident you are that your team or company actually has what it takes. That is, to attract the ideal employee profile you have in mind for a given position.

Why? Because the underlying question everyone asks himself – while in a seduction mode – is “What can I do to stand out from the competition? So “I” get picked by that person?

Answering that question is a real challenge in any recruitment process. Even more when you don’t believe your team or company has all it takes to interest someone.

This doubt tends to lead some managers (or recruiters) into a slippery situation. One where the fear of not being appealing enough pushes you to somehow smooth a few corners, positively boost so-so realities, twist some truths. In other words, to slip white lies in your company’s presentation, during a job interview.

(By “appealing”, think of any feature or “personality traits” about your company or competitors that strike your imagination and make you like them; innovation driven, close knitted team, work-hard-play-hard ethic, competitive wages, etc..)


Wanting to stand out is legitimate. It’s how you do it that might create a problem. “But white lies aren’t really lies. They’re innocent, inoffensive.”

Here are some whites lies examples that job seekers I recently met were told during (job) interviews and later uncovered: “We offer all our employees a flexible work schedule” when in reality they were required to be available 7 days a week, from 7AM to 11PM. “In the team you’ll be working with, employees enjoy a certain freedom of action” when the person in charge was actually a micro-manager, overseeing everything but everything done on a daily basis. “Yes I’m open to new ideas and ways to improve how things are done” when in fact the manager would publicly discredit anyone who brought a new idea. Because he liked things to be as they were 5 years ago, when he came in the management position he now had.

These are deep shit lies. Not white ones.” Truth is, there are as many shades of white as there are possible points of views. Whatever the shade you might prefer to use, if you use any, white lies can do much harm. How? When used to actually set the foundation on which you want someone to make the decision of picking your company and say “Ok. Let’s work / build something together”.

Among the damages you’ll definitely witness when a white lie is uncovered there’s disengagement. From the once-a-candidate-now-an-employee. Because you failed to deliver on what was said to be the reality. So, that feeling of trust and confidence that grew towards you (since that 1st interview) has been replaced by one of betrayal. Making your employee’s self-talk go from “You’re trying to seduce me” to “You lied to me…”.

It no surprise then that distrust, not benefit of the doubt, now acts as a safeguard against anything you’ll say from then on.

All of that because of something rarely (if never) spoken about in recruitment; the use of lies to seduce, attract candidates.

You can witness this kind of situation turnover (from trust to distrust) in people’s personal relationships outside of work as well.

Seeking the trust of others is actually deeply rooted. It’s not a whim.

How can you play your cards with more confidence, and stir up someone else’s interest then? Even if the cards you have at hand don’t seem good or attractive enough to you? It’s something I’ll address in another post.

For now, though, when was the last time you were ought to say a white lie during an interview but went for the truth instead and it paid off?

Signature PF