My weekly coffee chat and peer-to-peer networking group meeting didn’t start out as a bitch session against recruiters. But it did turn into one. And yes, in the process, someone told of a corporate hiring manager who did utter those words that make up our headline. During an actual job interview. More on that in a minute.

So I am in this group of fairly disparate people in terms of life stage and vocation. A couple are CEOs, one is an entrepreneur and company owner, there is a VP of sales and marketing, a few consultants and a couple who are in transition as they say.

We start out by doing a once-around and talking about hits, misses, questions about best practices, “Has this ever happened to you?” “Do you know anyone at such and such company?” and so on.

We get around to a guy who was in IT, and has been looking for work all the way up to the CTO level. He has a lot of experience and I’m sure he is good at what he does, though I certainly don’t understand much about information architecture.

And neither, he opines anyway, does a certain senior hiring manager at a national big box retailer headquartered in a Minneapolis suburb.

He had already passed the initial phone screen and one interview, and now was making his way up the food chain to someone more senior.

As he recounted, the recruiter had a list of questions she referred to as the interview proceeded, and things went well. At first.

They discussed staging, integration and access, data mining, online analytical processing and other fun stuff.

Then they drill down a little more and she asks if he had any experience working with x, say a specific IT tool whose name I don’t recall.

The candidate replied, “Sure, I know what it is, but I have not worked with that specifically.”

And that pretty much ended the interview he says. She kept looking at this piece of paper that had a list of qualifications on it, and he didn’t have it, and he didn’t magically acquire it sitting there with her, no matter how many times and ways she asked him about it. And – no surprise – he also didn’t get the job.

“I developed and owned the freaking enterprise information architecture strategy at my previous employer, also a large company,” said my coffee companion, to the best of my ability to remember this stuff. “In other words, I built the house, I was the architect, and she is hung up on whether or not I have experience using a Stanley Tools DWHT51138 15 oz. framing hammer. I wanted to reach across the table, grab that piece of paper out of her hands and rip it to shreds! Unbelievable.”

Ok, full disclosure here, my friend didn’t actually name the hammer part. I just looked that up on the Internet. The thought and sentiment is his though, and accurately portrayed.

So then this prompted another coffee colleague to relay the story of a recent hiring experience his best friend had.

He had been sought out by an online retailer who wanted him to work in their consumer electronics division.

In the interview he was asked,  “How much experience do you have with the cell phone category? How much do you know about them?”

“Well, of course I use them, and I know something about them from a merchandising standpoint, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert.”

Do you know what this interviewer said? “You need to be a better liar to get this job!”

Yikes!!!

According to one survey, reported here, one in three job applicants tells massive lies during interviews. The biggest ones are exaggerated work experience, fake references and out and out fabrications about previous salaries.

So there are a couple of questions in this post. Let’s go back to the first guy to begin with.

Do you conduct interviews with that piece of paper in our hand? The one that came from the hiring manager or the department head or the client. And are you sticking, verbatim, to the qualifications on that list? Do you know enough about the position or the client to feel comfortable to veer off the path that paper or particular qualification specifies, and say, “I think this person can do this job!” Even if they don’t have a certain certification or demonstrable experience?

That’s one set of questions. Now, for the second. Do you assume a certain number or percentage or even ALL of your candidates are in fact lying? How do you account for that? Would you recommend compulsive self-disclosure, even though it might result in not hiring that person and penalizing them for their honesty?

Take a shot at answering some of these questions, either in the comment section below, or in your own post! We want to hear from you.

Tags: Recruiters, News, Networking, Job Interviews, Hiring Practices, Lying, Corporate hiring managers, Qualifications, Phone screen, Self-disclosure