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Article by: Bob Haas — View more articles by Bob Haas

Posted on: August 30, 2018

Staying honest at the End of HR Interviews

Closeup portrait of young business man opening shirt to vent, it's hot, unpleasant, awkward situation, embarrassment. Isolated white background. Negative human emotions, facial expression, feelingsHave you ever lied at the end of an HR interview? A flat-out, bold-faced lie? Before you say, “of course not,” ask yourself if you always get back to the HR candidate within the timeframe you promised… if you even get back in touch at all.

It is a common occurrence, a natural end to any interview that you talk next steps. You may be asked “When will I hear from you?” and even feel like you have a pretty good handle on the situation at the time. And so, you answer… “Within the next two weeks” or something similar. And then two weeks becomes a month… or it just slips your mind entirely to get back with all the HR candidates you interviewed. It’s not intentional, it is a natural course of work life as business priorities get in the way of a new hire.

The problem is, even for the HR candidate you end up hiring, you end up looking either less than honest or simply disorganized and unreliable. And for those who are not hired? They’re left with a sour taste in their mouth because you’ve left them hanging while they wait to hear about a job they are out of the running for. Interviewing candidates is a public-facing exercise, and you can do your company’s brand a real disservice by “lying to candidates.” I get it, you’re not lying per say, but things change. So, what can you do? Try a few of these techniques to keep your “pants from being on fire:”


If you think the process to find your next payroll or HR professional will take two weeks, consider saying “between two to four weeks.” I appreciate that you want to give yourself a deadline or you want to remain aggressive… but life happens, and no one ever got mad for being informed faster than you promise.


Is there a reason to keep an HR candidate in the pipeline if you have no intention of bringing him/her back for another interview? Typically, candidates are not informed they will not be hired until the candidate is hired… and sometimes even in the job. You aren’t jumping the gun if you let HR candidates know throughout the hiring process that they are no longer a candidate. Most likely, you will develop a tier one, two, and maybe ever three as you interview candidates. Consider cutting the tier two and three candidates loose and let them know that you “appreciate their time but will be hiring another candidate.”


This goes hand-in-hand with “honesty” but more appropriate for your “tier one” payroll or HR candidates. If something comes up, tell your valued candidates that are still in the running. A quick email stating that interviewing or the decision process is taking longer than anticipated – we hope to finish by (fill in the blank) is entirely appropriate and helps build trust and an open and honest relationship with whoever you end up hiring.

You neither want to get off on the wrong foot with your next HR hire nor alienate those who are near-misses. It may not be “lying,” but no one is perfect, so stay as honest as you can!