How to Recognize Deceptive Interviewers

Have you ever had an interview that turned out later to be deceptive in one or more ways? Quite possibly, although I like to think that most interviewers do not deliberately deceive applicants. However, I have had clients who took a job before they discovered it had been misrepresented in the interview. That can be not only a frustrating experience but a costly one, particularly if you pass up other opportunities and accept the position before you discover your mistake.

How to Tell When Interviewers are Lying

According to a recent Brazen Careerist post I read by Vanessa Van Edwards, there are “3 Ways to Tell if Your Interviewer is Lying.” I imagine you could come up with more if you gave it some thought, based on your experience or the experience of people you know, but here in a nutshell are the clues Van Edwards offers:

  • Exaggeration: A clue might be the use of excessive adjectives or superlatives.
  • Common fibs: Van Edwards mentions “9 Annoying Lies Job Interviewers Tell,” (another Brazen Careerist post, by Heather Legg) which includes these 3 possible fibs: “You’re in the lead for this position.” “We think your outside life is just as important as your work life.” “We’re working on hiring someone who would help you.” (Legg’s post does point out that some of the possible fibs could be true, but you have to dig to find out.)
  • Body language: Watch for inconsistencies between what the person says and how he or she acts, including things like eye contact or seating position.

How to Avoid Being Deceived by Interviewers

Aside from watching out for the 3 ways mentioned by Van Edwards, here are a few suggestions I’d like to share:

  • To start with, include sufficient research in your interview preparation–actually, start sooner than that. Before deciding to submit your resume for a position you’ve spotted, research the company to see if any immediate red flags pop up, as well as to identify any good points that fit your desired situation. What kind of reputation does it have where it matters–which is most likely not from the pages of the company’s annual report.
  • Pay attention to what’s going on around you before as well as during the interview. In other words, from the moment you arrive on the company’s property, you should have your observation antennae up and functioning. It’s amazing sometimes the clues you can pick up from that.
  • Chat with the receptionist while you wait for the interviewer, if the lobby isn’t too busy. A short, friendly conversation with her (it’s usually a “her”) can give you a sense of what the company’s about and how it treats its employees, if you ask the right questions. Just don’t come across sounding like someone from the Spanish Inquisition!
  • Make notes before the interview and, if possible, during it about information you gain by watching, listening and asking questions. After you leave, compare those notes with what the interviewer actually said (if you didn’t get to write it all down, which was probably the case, add anything else you remember while it’s fresh in your mind). Also compare your notes with the information you researched before arriving for the interview.

Bonus Interview Tip: Make sure you don’t get swayed by emotion (excitement, desperation, etc.) into making a decision your research and observations tell you is probably not wise. Going with your instinct can sometimes work out, but probably not if you’re letting emotion cloud your judgment.

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