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Why employers don’t tell the truth in the hiring interview

Employers lyingThis is an article by guest blogger Jorg Stegemann.

Well, let’s assume that most hiring managers don’t do this on purpose. But still it happens regularly that candidates sign for a work contract and find a different job on their first day in the office. What are the possible reasons for that and what can you do to minimise the risks that this will happen to you?

  • External reasons: The economic environment can change fast (e.g. like the economy from April 2011 to now), the loss of a major client can have an impact on entrepreneurial decisions. In some countries, political factors can have an impact on strategic decisions.
  • Internal reasons: An infrastructure can change and if a key-player joins – or leaves – a company, it can have an impact on your future role. Strategy can be revised for whatever reason and departments can be outsourced, divisions can be closed or sold. Major investments which were approved when you were hired (and meant to be used to pay your salary) can be cut.

What can you do to reduce the risks for this to happen?

  • Do your homework: Many jobs do not have a job description and for positions on senior level, you cannot ask one if you want to be credible. However, 80 per cent of what you are supposed to do should be clear in advance and clear answers should be given to your questions. If the hiring manager is not able to tell you, this is not a good sign and can be an indicator that things will change (namely exactly the grey area that has not been discussed with you beforehand.)
  • Ask specific questions: “How will my performance be measured”, “Which criteria will define my success or my failure?”, “How might the organization develop over the next months and how could this affect the job?”
  • Ask general questions: “What can change from now until then?”, “What could go wrong?”


Surprises are mostly good for birthday parties and mostly bad in the business world. If your job content changes during the first weeks, this will be bad most of the times.

On the one hand, we must understand that the future is unpredictable and that in rough times, things can change fast. On the other hand, we have to take control of our careers. We do not want to seem paranoid but as Benjamin Franklin put it “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Do your homework, try to reduce the risks of bad surprises – and if it still does not work out, turn to a headhunter you trust.

About the author
Jorg Stegemann has been working in professional recruitment since 2001, has coached thousands of professionals from entry to C-level and found a new job for hundreds of candidates. In the past, he has held various managerial and corporate functions with three major players in this industry and with a pan-European scope. Jorg blogs on My Job Thoughts | Career advice from a headhunter.

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