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What to Do if a Prospective Employer is Misrepresenting the Job Offer

What to Do if a Prospective Employer is Misrepresenting the Job Offer

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

This is the second of two articles on improper job Interview issues.

In the previous article, I talked about how some candidates have experienced the rude practice of “ghosting” in the interview process. That occurs when the candidate is suddenly cut off from further communication by the prospective employer. Now, I want to discuss another unsettling practice during the interview process. Over the years, I have had job candidates ask me how to handle employer deception during the interview process.

For example, a prospective employer asked a programmer candidate to create a script to fix a problem that none of its employees had been able to solve. She turned in her best work, although she had a feeling that the organization just wanted to see the steps she took to fix the problem. The company then promptly presented her with another problem to solve.

In the first instance, the candidate provided the requested solution because she wanted the job and had no actual reason to believe that there wasn’t a position available. But when she was asked to solve another problem, she sensed that perhaps the hiring manager and HR representative were not being candid about the job offer.

She applied at a different company and was asked to complete a similar pre-screen exercise.She wrote a script that allowed the hiring officers to see that she was able to solve the problem. But this time she added some code that would lock the solution after the hiring officials reviewed it. The hiring manager and HR representative were not able to use it again.

In researching the issue of deceptive employer interview techniques, I found that the majority of the literature deals with deceptive interviewee practices versus misdeeds by employers.

Employment Fraud Cases Are Difficult to Prove

I found a law firm article that explained the basic difference between employment misrepresentation and employment fraud. Employment fraud is difficult to prove.

Fraud involves a malicious intent to deceive. Misrepresentation occurs where no such malicious intent is present. A misrepresentation may occur intentionally, recklessly or negligently. If it is intentional, the law requires intent only to make a false statement, not intent to cause harm to the other person.

According to the New Jersey-based employment and labor relations Resnick Law Group, employment misrepresentation can take many forms. The four forms Resnick discusses are:

  • Instances when employers make promises to potential candidates knowing they have no intention of keeping or cannot keep them.
  • A promise of a job that does not exist
  • Promises regarding the responsibilities of the position
  • False representation regarding the viability and potential for success of the company

Fraud, on the other hand, is more difficult to prove because it depends upon the state of mind of the prospective hirer. In limited circumstances, the malicious nature of fraud may expose the defendant to punitive damages.

If you think you’re a victim of any of those misrepresentations during the hiring process, the best course of action is to contact a law firm that specializes in employer misrepresentation and fraud.

Start a management degree at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.