New research by Greenhouse reveals how candidates are being “catfished” during the interview process.

The report found that close to half of all respondents (45%) have rejected positions after a negative interview experience. 

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.

The broken hiring process reveals much more about company culture than employers realise, resulting in declined offers and driving away talented employees. 


What else does this catfishing include?

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 today, and it comes down to a broken hiring process.


Questionable interview practices lead to employees being “catfished”

Almost 40 percent of respondents who identified as Black have faced discriminatory questions, compared to 31 percent of white respondents. 

The report highlights how Black interviewees are over 25 percent more likely to experience illegal practices. Those who identified as female are almost 20 percent more likely to be faced with illegal interview questions, compared to their male counterparts. 

Digging deeper into the data we see candidates were asked about their marital status, family planning, whether their partners worked, what their childcare arrangements were, the year they were born, if they were a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, 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%). 


Will greater DE&I commitments avoid an employee being “catfished’?

Over 68 percent 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 percent believe a diverse hiring panel is fundamental to better hiring experiences and outcomes. 

With potential employees judging every touchpoint throughout the hiring process, it is more vital than ever that companies ensure structured, fair and inclusive hiring practices that represent the values of the company. 

“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 prioritizes 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.”


Why is this important? The hiring process reveals the employer brand

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

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 your 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. Close to one-quarter of respondents have written a negative review for a company on an external platform.







Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.