5 Common Recruiter Lies (and How to Avoid Them)

Colleagues overhear recruiter lies.

It’s time for an honest look at the top recruiter lies. Most of the statements recruiters tell candidates are true and important, even when they need to withhold information. By and large, recruiters are honest and upfront with job seekers and many care about every candidate.

However, recruiters do sometimes lie. The most common lies are usually well-intentioned and largely innocuous. However, lies are sometimes built into the recruiting process and can create a negative experience for candidates. Avoiding these “worst practices” can instantly translate into a hiring process that observes best practices, improves the candidate experience, and scores an easy win for your employer brand.

5 Common Recruiter Lies

How do recruiters lie? Here are five lies that recruiters often tell candidates—and ways you can avoid them.

1. When a Recruiter Says: “I’ll Keep You in Mind for Future Opportunities.”

It might mean: “Your resume will sit in our database untouched until you apply for something else. If you’re not right for any of my open job requisitions, any memory of you ends the moment I hang up this phone.”

Best practice: Tell candidates up front whether you feel there will be other possibilities for them down the line. Offer an explanation of your rationale. Provide suggestions for ways they can increase their chance of landing a future role.

2. When a Recruiter Says: “Salary Depends on Experience. There’s No Set Amount.”

It might mean: “I already have a figure with almost no margin for negotiation. So, your expectations are the sole determinant as to whether this conversation continues or whether I’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.”

Best practice: Some states and localities require businesses to share salary ranges on their job descriptions. Even if it’s not mandated in your state or locality, you may want to include the salary range on your job descriptions so you only hear from candidates if it meets their expectations.

3. When a Recruiter Says: “You’ll Hear From Us Either Way.”

It might mean: “We’ll send you a templated rejection letter from a blind email address, if you’re lucky,” leaving the candidate to wonder if they’re still in contention.

Best practice: Applicant tracking systems (ATS) can send an automatic confirmation via email to applicants. Many of these systems will also send candidates an email to let them know when a requisition closes and they are no longer in the running.

For candidates contacted for a phone screen and beyond, it’s a best practice to let them know directly if they’re not selected. If they took the time to follow up and answer questions, common courtesy suggests you should do the same.

Remember, it’s okay to turn down a job seeker in a professional manner, but not informing them of the decision reflects poorly on your organization, especially if they were told that they would hear back. When someone is desperately looking for a job, this is perhaps one of the worst of the recruiter lies they can experience.

4. When a Recruiter Says: “We’re Interested, but We’re Still Looking at Other Candidates.”

It might mean: “An offer’s been extended to someone else, and we’re hoping they’ll accept so we don’t have to go to Plan B: you.”

Best practice: Be upfront about where the search stands. If there are some outstanding questions or concerns surrounding a candidate, let them know. There’s a good chance they’ll be able to provide information to inform a pending decision.

If the hiring manager’s delay in making an offer has nothing to do with the candidate, make sure they know exactly what the reasons are for the delay and the new timeframe. Recruiter lies by silence or omission are still lies. If you don’t know this information, let the candidate know the next time you’ll speak with the hiring manager and follow up with both.

5. When a Recruiter Says: “I Was Passed Your Name By a Mutual Contact Who Asked to Remain Confidential…”

It might mean: “I found your information online.” So, do recruiters lie when they equate online research to a referral? Perhaps not technically, but it’s not entirely honest either.

Best practice: This line remains incredibly common when engaging candidates for the first time. While candidates show an increased willingness to speak with someone based on a referral, it’s important to let a candidate know how you received their information. If you found their information online, then they probably were hoping to get noticed by recruiters.

This ensures active job seekers know what’s effective, while passive candidates stay informed about their visibility. It also leads to better sourcing in hiring reports, which is often self-reported by candidates. This information helps recruiters and employers know which resources are most effective to make more informed decisions when establishing and executing search strategies.

Continue to Improve Your Hiring Process

Avoiding these common recruiter lies can boost your employer brand so you bring top candidates on board. Learn more expert-recommended recruitment strategies for strengthening your hiring process.