What not to tell candidates in the interview

As a hiring manager you want to be as honest as possible with potential candidates in order to make sure that once they are in your team, there are no complaints. As this is  to be appreciated, sometimes we need to think about how to put certain things into perspective and how to tell them to others outside the company. People might take them the wrong way.

For example, here are some phrases that are often misinterpreted:

“We are at the beginning and we don’t know what to do yet, but we will figure things out as we go”
Maybe for you, this means that you have not yet thought about the specifics while you have the big picture in mind. But in translation, for a candidate, this might be perceived as “I do not know what to do, where I want to go and how to do this”. It is scary to contemplate such a company, as in today’s market, where start-ups fail all the time, you want to secure a safe position in a safe company. So, while being honest about the fact that you haven’t yet figured out any specific tasks and responsibilities, make sure you discuss the big picture with the stakeholders in your company and that you are able to tell it to your future employees. Putting a detailed plan into writing will help a great deal to gain clarity and to present it to someone else.

“It is a very competitive and stressful environment. I hope you understand that.”
This is a red flag for anyone looking for a job. As a candidate, you get to thinking, if the hiring manager gives me this warning during the interview, than things must be very bad and the work environment insufferable.. If I hear “competitive” and “Stressful” I think about working all the time, being under pressure and even doing overtime. Also, when you say “stressful”, this is very subjective and based on your own experiences. Maybe for you it is stressful because you have to deal with multiple challenges, but for someone else “Stressful” might mean having to work for 14 hours straight. While you think you are being honest and painting the true picture, try to explain and to give the potential candidate facts, not your own conclusions ( for example, tell them how a day should be like at the office, what it is expected from them to do in terms of responsibilities, and let them draw their own conclusions).

“Your salary will increase after the first three months, in order to reach to the amount your requested.”
This speaks volumes about your organization and is disappointing for the candidate, as it sends the message that you believe they do not deserve that salary. Usually, unless this is put in writing, it doesn’t happen and most managers use it in order to attract the employees, without also thinking that it will not keep them on the long run. It is a dirty trick to try and it never ends well…most of the time, those employees end up by leaving the company in search of a workplace where promises are kept. So, do not brag or promise something to the candidate during the interview which you are well aware that you will not be able to deliver. 

“What would you do if a snake entered the room?”
Please do not try to be funny and use all those interesting personality questions you just found on the Internet. There are companies that use them, for a reason, to get to certain abilities that are crucial in that type of work. If you kept the interview on a serious basis discussing the job responsibilities and company culture, dropping a question like this out of the blue, it will only scare the candidate possibly make them re-consider the job. Remember that they do not know you, they have no idea what kind of person you are, if you are sane or not. So , doing something like this might seriously affect your credibility with the candidate.