Why Do Candidates Always Lie to Us?

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Jun 19, 2015

Lies, Lies, Lies… They’re candidates. They lie!

If you’ve been in the recruiting industry long enough, I’m sure you’ve developed that love-hate relationship with candidates that we know all too well. Understanding a candidate’s motivation for exploring new opportunities or actively seeking a change in employment may be the most difficult part of our job as recruiters. Sure, you catch a break now and then and find that candidate who just got laid-off or who posted their resume on a job board at just the right moment for you to find it. But the industry has shifted, and these days most candidates are passive. For the majority of us out there,   we rely more and more on resources like LinkedIn.

So how do you sift through the lies and get the candidate on your side? By recognizing the “red flags,” and understanding how to turn your candidate into an ally rather than your opponent.

My Favorite Lines

Some of my favorite candidate BS stories are the “I’m not looking to make a change,” and the “Money is not a motivating factor for me.”

First of all, if my candidate isn’t interested in a new job, why are they talking to me? Why are they sitting in their car at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of their son’s soccer game and asking me about the opportunity I have? Money doesn’t motivate them? So why are they telling me they make $80,000 a year at their current job, but market value for someone with their experience and skill set is $65,000? Please, if they’re telling me money doesn’t motivate them, then they probably just don’t have any. People are greedy by nature. The candidates I’ve worked with have proven that time and again.

A couple more of my favorites are: “I’m still working,” and “I’m willing to relocate.” Really, they’re still working? Then why have they called me three times today during work hours, and picked up their phone when they should be at their desk working? Chances are they either got laid-off or fired. They need to own up to it so we can get down to business.

They’re willing to move for the right opportunity? Huh? That’s fine and dandy, unfortunately they failed to mention the fact that their kids are still in school, their wife is employed full-time, and they have a house to sell. I’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery than they do of actually relocating for a job.

Some of the Reasons

So why are candidates lying to you?

  • They don’t trust you. Most candidates are aware of the fact that you make $$$ when you find them a new job. In their mind I’m sure they’re wondering whether or not you have their best interests at heart, or yours.
  • They see you as the opponent in their negotiations. If they tell you they’re making more $$$ than they actually do, they’ve begun negotiating with you because they believe that you’ll work to get them that salary and you hold the cards.
  • They feel like you’re pushing too hard. ABC (Always Be Closing) doesn’t always work, and nobody wants to feel like they’re being closed by a used car salesperson.
  • They believe their “disinterest” gives them a bargaining chip. “If I appear too eager I’ll seem desperate and get a lesser offer.”
  • They quite simply have something to hide.

At the end of the day if you want your candidates to be honest with you, they need to trust you. They need to know and believe that you have their best interests at heart, and that you aren’t just looking for your next payday.

How do you get them to believe that? By truly having their best interests at heart.

I personally take the time to really understand my candidate’s wants and desires as it pertains to their careers and it’s helped me to build long-lasting, fruitful relationships with many of them that I cherish to this day. The beauty of this industry is that it really can be a win-win-win.

Happy candidate = Happy client = Successful recruiter.

Image: David Castillo Dominici /
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