How To Trick An Employer Into Hiring You

Sam, I absolutely hate my company and hate my job.  I can’t wait for some sucker to give me a big package so I can blow this joint and retire early.” January 17, 2011.

These are the words of an acquaintance who hit the jackpot when an upstart company in his industry decided to give him a two-year guarantee for 50% more a year.  In the employer’s mind, they think they are getting an experienced person with a great attitude and a long term commitment of building their business for 5+ years.  In my acquaintance’s mind, he’s jumping ship because he sees the dollar signs and plans to retire as soon as his two-year contract is over.

HOODWINKING, SOFT LIES, & MISMATCHING MADE PERFECT

After 5-10 years of experience in whatever field you are in, there will inevitably be competing firms who will want to hire you away if you are a good performer.  If you are a super high performer you will always have opportunities thrown at you.  Your biggest problem is deciding when is the right time to leave for the bigger bucks.

The sad part about the scenario above is that I’ve known the hiring manager for over a decade and think he is a brilliant business builder.  Yet, even a brilliant man like him can get hoodwinked by a miserable guy with different intentions.  How does this happen?  Here’s how.

The dark pieces of you can sometimes shimmer.

Nobody is completely melancholy.  We all have things we get excited and happy about.  Those specific thoughts are what you have to concentrate on to pass a lie detector test.

Interviews are the only way for an employer to directly ascertain how you are as a person.  This is when you need to throw away all your disdain, and less than desirable attributes and start performing.  You are the lead actor in a play, and your goal is to make your audience love you.  Don’t underestimate the importance of “looking the part”.  They do play huge parts in making good impressions.

You must smile and say sweet words of kindness.  You must pretend your motivations are pure, and that you are there for the long term.  All your intentions seem real, because you are thinking about things that will potentially make you happy if you get this job – a lot of money, an early retirement, and sticking it to your old firm.

Important positions need to be carefully vetted because once someone enters your organization, it is brutally difficult to get them out thanks to employment protection laws.  As a result, you will go through multiple interviews over many months to make sure you are the right candidate.  You need to keep your game face on and replicate your happy enthusiasm consistently over and over again.  You must not break.

Even Ghengis Khan has allies.

The next vital step is having superb references.  Even if you are the most evil person on earth, you will at least have a handful of people who will sing your praise.  Identify those people and feed them to your perspective employer.  Give your references a heads up that you have done so and be extra kind to them for at least a month before the process.  Take them out for lunch and help out anyway you can.

Five references is generally enough.  A lot of employers stop at three, so if you give them more, you will look like a credible person.

Sugar-coated donuts are unhealthy, but everybody still loves them.

You’ll undoubtedly have some weaknesses which are less than desirable with your prospective employer.  No matter, because you are smiling and demonstrating your fantastic fake enthusiasm about the hiring company.  You have implanted sugar coated donuts into the hiring manager’s head that you will be the perfect candidate for the job.

The interview process is exactly the time where you can over-promise on what you can do.  You make them salivate like Pavlov’s dog.  The more you promise them, the more they will want to pay you.  Forget the sugar shaker, you bring out the industrial powder sugar machine that rains goodness 10 donuts at a time.  You know that once you are in, it’s too late.  You’ve got them by the balls because everything is in writing.

The more you think about waterfalls in a crowded place, the more you will need to pee.

People can’t help but follow the herd.  As soon as your prospective employer gets a whiff that someone else might be interested in hiring you, your stock will rocket to the top.  You need to create that anxiety even if it might not be entirely true.  It’s easy to say have been approached by a competing firm, but nothing has transpired yet.  Once your prospective employer hears that, they’ll start thinking about Niagara Falls baby!

NOW YOU KNOW WHY UNDERPERFORMERS SURVIVE

You must master your own presence.  Like an actor in a big Hollywood movie, you are able to turn on the charm once the cameras start rolling.  If you can do that, you will forever be employed because you’ll always be able to jump around.  By the time your employer realizes they’ve made a mistake, it won’t matter because you’ve got that fat contract, or you’re already moving on to your next employer!

Readers, any tricks you have for getting hired when you know you don’t deserve the position or have no intention of staying longer than your contract?  Why can’t employers see through bad hires more often?  Do you know of people who keep landing on their feet, even though they are less-than-optimal performers?

Regards,

Sam

 

 

 

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Nice post Sam! Reminded me of a guy just like this who got hired. By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late and too expensive to fire him!

  2. says

    I think it would be really difficult for me to act that way. Fortunately I’ve been genuinely excited about most of the jobs I’ve interviewed for even if that excitement has faded on the job in some cases. I generally don’t even bother to apply if I’m that negative about a position.

  3. says

    Lol, nice post. I don’t really like these sort of games and BS; I’d rather find something I’d be genuinely happy for so I don’t have to fake it.

    BTW there are some who believe that a job is a voluntary arrangement between two parties so the only laws you really need are laws against involuntary servitude, fraud, and physical violence. Anything beyond that just reduces the freedom of the parties to come to the best agreement and leads to bad consequences such as people sitting around in jobs they hate because it’s harder to find another job because employers are less willing to take a risk in hiring someone, because once they’re in it’s hard for the employer to get rid of them, so inertia wins over dynamism.

    Then there are those that think that a voluntary arrangement is a misnomer because without a job you don’t have income to gain food or clothing. Therefore employers are morally obligated to provide people with jobs as a social duty, irrespective of any agreements.

    Which camp do you fall in?

    • says

      Sounds like two suboptimal choices so I’ll say neither, fully.

      Employment is voluntary and it’s up each side to give it their best. As youget older and have more money, you sometimes become a mercenary like my acquitance. Can’t blame him…

      • says

        I actually have personal experience of both situations. One where the employees thought the job existed for their own personal benefit, and another where there was a lot of inertia because once you’re in, you’re IN — there’s no getting you out. In the second case I’d say it was a management problem rather than an employee problem — the employees were motivated, but the direction wasn’t right.

        I don’t know, personally I don’t want to be in your acquaintance’s shoes but the perverse side of making it harder to fire people is that employers are more reluctant to hire, which sometimes leads to these sort of acrobatics. Or, sometimes these employers become very risk averse and they just hire people as contractors which turns the workplace into a dual-caste society.

  4. says

    Quite often, the interviewer is not very good at discovering this attitude. References may only give work related opinions. I don’t think employers ever really explore this with the candidate. They just give incentives to stay. How would you test for truthfulness or character? Perhaps a lie detector exam?

  5. says

    That’s why interviewing skill and charm is even more important than work. I’ve only worked for tech. companies and we always put a candidate through at least 4-5 interviewers. The charm might fool the manager, but they usually can’t fool the technical staffs. Of course if you are charming and competent, that’s even better.

    • says

      I would say a candidate should meet a MINIMUM of 5, and better yet 10+ so one can be more sure. Once they are in, it’s impossible to get em out. Interviewing skills really are key!

  6. says

    I think a lot of people are intelligent talkers. They sound like they are giants, but unfortunately that’s all they are… talkers…

    I’ve seen my share of talkers hire in at levels higher than me… Sad really. And sometimes managment doesn’t even realize that are bad employees… that’s the real kicker :)

  7. says

    I have to put it on the interviewer as well. I consider myself an okay interviewer, but there are a couple people I work with that get scammed all the time and end up hiring garbage. We (my other peers and I) basically tell them not to interview people and we pick up the slack because it is much better than letting these two interview!

  8. says

    I agree, it also comes down to the interviewer, which stresses the importance of having multiple interviewers. Steering clear of the hoodwinkers and those with the gift of the gab is tricky but joining their rank and file is not something I’d condone. In my view the best performance comes from those with a genuine passion for the role and the work. Why sell yourself short in a position that you don’t really care for?

  9. Jonathan says

    I like the post because it covers a story about job interviewing for more senior candidates. Many online blog posts only cover job interviewing for college graduates. I am currently entering the workforce, and have conquered the college interview process(6 interviews, 6 job offers). Now, I am interested to know about the senior-level interviews, which I imagine can be quite different.

    I think the only sure-fire way to make sure someone is a good candidate is by direct referral. That way, the guy/girl who is referring will have their reputation on the line, which gives them huge motivation/incentive to provide a quality candidate. Obviously, this is not always practical, as people only know a limited amount of potential job-seekers that would fit the position.

  10. says

    I work in the teaching position where this is the status quo. Unfortunately there are a ton of teachers who are great at playing the interview game and then give next-to-no effort. Our ultra-strong union makes sure that you basically have to kill someone to get fired. Being completely incompetent at your job is definitely not grounds for dismissal. I wish administrators would adopt a longer vetting process, it would save so much effort in the long run.

  11. says

    There’s a guy in my industry who has landed some really great positions. He worked for a client of mine, so I’ve worked directly with him in that respect, and he is awful. GREAT in person. Terrible when it comes to getting anything done. I’ve seen him go from company to company, always the same story. Terrible at every job, yet gets hired over and over.

    Sometimes, all it takes is a firm hand shake and a smile.

  12. Mike Hunt says

    Great post, Sam. What you say is soooo true it’s not even funny.

    The only way to smoke out a person’s character is to spend more time with them during the interview process. For very senior positions lots of interviews across different settings (dinner meetings, out on the golf course) is not uncommon.

    At the end of the day it is how you perform in the role that matters, because they are some great actors out there. Checking references is good, also looking for any inconsistencies in behavior or explanations- as you say you can never be 100% sure. So if the person turns out to be a turkey, fire them and pay them out. It’s a calculated risk for both parties.

    -Mike

  13. says

    I have often looked at certain workers and thought “how in the world did they get this job??” However, that was more during good economic times. Now it seems that companies are getting so thin that there is no hesitancy to let people go, so many underperformers around here don’t last very long.

    I can’t play games, I just do what I do. But I do know there are plenty of players out there.

  14. John says

    Interesting article. I can’t help but think that it would still be better to be more sincere and real for a couple of reasons. First, I think any employer with a just a smidgin of discernment will see right through the facade. Second, if you can’t be yourself with an employer than I think this will inevitably lead to hating yourself and your job.

  15. says

    I see this all the time in my field…People are great interviewers and over promise and under deliver. Never ends up good.

  16. says

    It is like interview steroids, lying gets you an unfair advantage over those who were more truthful. But since you can never know what someone does behind closed doors, you have to assume they are doing everything that was mentioned in this article. Great points, and a reminder to everyone to step up their interviewing “skills”.

  17. says

    Interviewing is such a crap shoot. Ask all of the SBO (Situation, Behavior, Outcome) questions you’d care to, just fire away, and still, there are still little quirks and oddities and gotchas that don’t come out until the employee is well entrenched.

  18. says

    @Money Reasons
    That’s bad management if they don’t realize the employee is subpar. I’m disappointed in the person who hired this acquaintance. I’m not one to butt in. I just thought he’d see through the smoke and mirrors.

    @Daniel Rosenhaus
    Interview skills should be practiced and developed. Seriously, it can mean thousands of dollars in extra pay if you’re good.

    @101 Centavos
    It’s a leap of faith. Anybody who says they are sure about the candidate is just really praying they are sure.

    @Evan
    But, at least they get the job!

    @John
    Yes, but if you want to just get the big guarantee package and quit after the contract is over, then it doesn’t really matter. It’s just for the money.

  19. says

    There are plenty people who seriously does this “resign-after-the-two-year-contract-ends’. The main reason for doing this is for their value to increase. After getting hired in a big company that pays big bucks, the next goal of a person is to “grow”. Once they feel that they are stuck in a situation or in their job, they now search for other companies that need their skills. This is where they can ask for a bigger salary. The human being is never satisfied, and when they get tired of the new job, the cycle goes on.

  20. says

    I hate people who interview well. They are just so confident and good at sugar coating, sweet talking. I usually end up having to pick up their slack.

    Maybe I’m just jealous though because I don’t interview well myself :)

    Great tips Sam!

  21. says

    Interesting article. It reminds me of advice my grandmother gave me one time in respect to all areas of my life. Life is a stage and you are the lead actress. If you want to get ahead in life you have to play your part in life like a winner. Seems if you want that job you have to play the part and be the winner they are looking for.

  22. says

    @Nunzio Bruno
    You can’t blame em. If you can get a bid away, and reset how the firm views you, then why not!

    @youngandthrifty
    It’s just a skill anybody can learn through lots of practice! Might as well practice with your friends, b/c it could literally be the diff between making bagillions, and just millions

    @Jackie
    “Life is a stage and you are the lead actress.” BINGO!

  23. says

    People who hire based off of only one 20 minute interview with a candidate for an analytic type of role are not doing it right. Resumes are so often full of fluff and so are interview responses. It takes a lot of practice on the hiring managers part to learn how to recognize the genuine and the fakers.

  24. says

    Quote:

    “After 5-10 years of experience in whatever field you are in, there will inevitably be competing firms who will want to hire you away if you are a good performer. If you are a super high performer you will always have opportunities thrown at you.”

    So how does a competing employer know you are a great performer in the first place? Yes, the ‘show’ or how you come accross is an important trait, but only once you have the door opened. I believe a very important hurdle, and perhaps the most difficult one, is to get the foot into the door. Often this is done via connections and networking of some kind, which already assumes true ‘performance’ comes second anyway.

    • says

      If you’re coming right after school, the simple answer is that they don’t. This post is meant for more experienced hires who have clients who can vouch for them, and whose reputation exudes performance over the years.

      That said, that’s why your grades, college activities, and internships need to be solid. That’s what every leap of faith first employer will look for.

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