The #1 Mistake Hiring Managers Make When Interviewing | No BS Hiring Advice

I worked in search for more than 40 years and filled a lot of positions–more than 1200 full time plus consulting and interim roles. This is by far the biggest mistake you as a hiring manager make

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I'm surprised I haven't done a video around this topic, but I picked up on it. And here it is. The number one mistake employers make. The number one mistake hiring managers make when interviewing people.
I want to start off with a story from when I started in search. And this is back in the Stone Ages, pre-computer, pre-fax machine. Way back when and there's a guy who trained me and there were three of us who were starting in the field at the same time and he says something that was . . . he asked three questions and the first one was, "how do you tell a job applicant is lying to you?" Most of us know they are prone to exaggeration. So the correct answer he offered was, "their lips are moving."
The next question was, "how can you tell a recruiter is lying to you?" Their lips are moving and lastly, and this is the one that I want you to hear. "How can you tell one of your clients is lying to you? Their lips are moving.
Now, you may not think you're a liar. You may not think you're lying to the candidates that you're talking to. But, the fact of the matter is, you're finessing the situation. What you're doing is minimizing some of the problems that you have, or you're not even disclosing them.
I know this for a fact, because, having worked in recruiting for as many years as I had, I've never ever heard a hiring manager ever say to a job hunter, "You know, you're stepping into a maelstrom. As a matter of fact, I've just taken over this group and my predecessor got fired and her predecessor got fired. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out my butt's on the line and I'm trying to hire someone to save it.
NO! Everyone talks about a terrific opportunity with a great company. We help our people grow! Have I mentioned, we're like family around here, even though you've got a group of lunatics that you absolutely love.
So, the number one mistake that you're making is you're setting people up for failure, you're setting them up to be disappointed and to not trust you. Although you may fill the job, and that's only the beginning of the relationship, the next part of the relationship is getting them to perform.
How much do you think they're going to trust you if they find out on week one, all the problems in the office? I know when I worked in search, I changed firms at the end. I joined an organization . . . well I left the firm where there were a bunch of lunatics, but I was told about this mature group of people, you know, very wise, very smart, very capable, and I know what they were. They were nuts! Nuts in different ways and the owner was nuts in different ways. But that's a different conversation.
My surprise caused me to never really want to listen to the people I was working for. I just kept my head down. I helped my clients fill positions and did a great job. But there came a point where I couldn't take it. I left
What do you think is going to happen to people who you hire? You think they're going to listen to you because, Lord knows, that it wasn't my experience. What I chose to do was nod my head and give them a back 75-80% because I felt, shall we say, screwed over.
Your big mistake is you don't confide your problems, particularly to leadership candidates and, if you're hiring senior professionals, they need to know what they're walking into.
A classic story. It doesn't involve me, except that I took the phone call from this guy. He had been a client of mine. And he joined an organization where they withheld the fact from him that he was taking over a large business unit, a large function where 80% of the money had been spent on this one particular program that he was going to be running but only 20% of the work had been done!
I got him out of their as fast as I could, because he was the "Fall Guy" and no one should ever be put in that position. How do you put people in that position by withholding information? Or, shall we say, "finessing the truth" a little bit sometimes.
Be honest with folks. Tell them, "hey look, not everything is going to be perfect. We do a lot of things well and, at times, we're not great. As a matter of fact . . . " and then you tell them some story about some lunatic behavior.
Do you think they'll trust you that much more instead of all these people with the "happy smile button faces" that all talk about this great opportunity with a terrific team of people. "We're like family around here!"
Stop lying. Seriously. Stop lying. Stop embellishing the truth. Stop trying to "finesse" situations and just give people the straight scoop about what they're walking into. You will get more out of them. They will trust you more, you'll be seen as the leader that you want to be seen as.


No BS Hiring Advice
No BS Hiring Advice

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter


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