Company catfishing: Candidates swipe left on interview processes

50% of candidates reject jobs due to poor and illegal hiring practices

The shocking extent to which candidates are being “catfished” during the interview process has been revealed in a new report by Greenhouse, the hiring software company.

The Candidate Interview and Employer Brand Report highlights how glossy web pages with overt promises of a great company culture, flexible working hours and impactful diversity and inclusion commitments are being exposed during the interview process.

Company culture is often misaligned with the employer brand of many companies in the US today, and it comes down to a broken hiring process, says Greenhouse.

Greenhouse surveyed more than 1,500 employees across the US. The report found nearly half of all respondents (45%) have rejected positions after a negative interview experience – revealing much more about the company culture than employers realise, resulting in declined offers and driving away talented employees. 

The findings show that almost one-third of candidates have faced discriminatory questions during a job interview, highlighting how these illegal, yet common, practices are harming both candidates and companies.

Questionable interviewing practices

The report highlights how Black interviewees are over 25% more likely to experience illegal practices. Almost 40% of respondents who identified as Black said they faced discriminatory questions, compared to 31% of white respondents. Those who identified as women are almost 20% more likely to face unlawful interview questions compared to their male counterparts. 

Digging deeper into the data revealed that candidates were asked about their marital status, family planning, whether their partners worked, their childcare arrangements and the year they were born.

If they were a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, candidates were asked where they were “really from” and more. The most common illegal interview questions were focused on age (35%), race (30%), marital status (28%), gender (28%), religion (20%), parental status (18%), sexual orientation (17%) and pregnancy status (14%). 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) commitment 

Over 68% of candidates believe that a diverse interview panel is fundamental to better hiring experiences and outcomes, showing that candidates care deeply about DE&I and are evaluating prospective employers through that lens.

For respondents from underrepresented groups, almost 90% believe a diverse hiring panel is fundamental to better hiring experiences and outcomes. With potential employees judging every touchpoint throughout the hiring process, it’s more vital than ever that companies ensure structured, fair and inclusive hiring practices that represent the company’s values. 

“Employer brand is something companies constantly talk about, particularly in this economic climate. However, these survey results show that candidates find out the reality of what a company prioritises and values early in the interviewing process. If you’re claiming to be something you’re not, you’re catfishing prospective employees, and people will find out,” said Donald Knight, Chief People Officer at Greenhouse.

“Whether intentional or not, it’s clear that bias and discrimination are actively present throughout the hiring process. Employer brand is far more than just a web page and free food. If you don’t put your people first authentically, you’ll be given the thumbs down by prospective employees.”

How the hiring process reveals employer brand

Candidates shape their impression of an employer during the interview process, meaning companies hurt themselves when they fail to train interviewers and structure their hiring process properly.

When interviewing for a new company, respondents evaluate a company’s employer brand through review platforms like Glassdoor (64%), word of mouth (60%) and direct contact with current and former employees (44%).

Employer brand does not just mean updating a career page on its website: almost three-fifths of respondents define employer brand as internally focused and helping to promote employee engagement within a company, such as making decisions with employees at the top of mind. About one-quarter of respondents have written a negative review for a company on an external platform.

To access the full results from the Greenhouse Candidate Interview and Employer Brand Report, visit the Greenhouse site here.

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