An engineer got a job offer revoked when he posted to Quora, asking for help in deciding between offers at Zenefits and Uber. Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad rescinded his company's offer. Business Insider calls his logic "brilliant." I agree--it brilliantly shows what is wrong with recruiting today.

When I first heard about this, I figured the engineer's question had been whiny or attack oriented or insulting to Zenefits or Uber. But, in fact, it was a well-reasoned pro-and-con list. The only problem was posting it publicly; it wasn't rude or inappropriate. But Conrad parachuted in and revoked the job offer, saying,

Definitely not Zenefits....We really value people who "get" what we do and who *want* to work here, specifically. It's not for everyone, but there are enough ppl out there who do want to work here that we can afford to be selective.

So, let me tell you why I think Conrad's response was not brilliant in a good way, and what is wrong with the hiring process in general.

1. You do have more power.

As Conrad said, Zenefits can afford to be selective. Most companies can. We talk about talent shortages, but the reality is, the hiring manager still wields most of the power. Things like this demonstrate that. Applicants are well aware of the tremendous power you hold and have to act accordingly.

2. It's pompous to assume that everyone working at your company is in his or her dream job.

If Conrad believes his whole staff wakes up every morning with a song in their heart because they get to work at Zenefits, he's delusional. People take jobs because it's the best they can do at the moment. They may love them; they may not. Sure, it's preferable to have someone who loves your company, but someone who has career aspirations beyond your front door can still be a fabulous employee.

3. Job seekers are held accountable for every career choice they ever make.

When we go searching for jobs, recruiters and hiring managers quickly look over résumés and toss out anyone deemed unworthy. Unfortunately, this means that having a big-name company on your résumé is more valuable than an unknown company. Uber is better known than Zenefits. Candidates are smart to consider how a job will look on their next résumé. Hiring managers expect no bumps in career history. Candidates know this.

4. Companies lie in the interview.

If you saw my email inbox, you'd know how often recruiters and hiring managers offer wanted job candidates the moon, but when the actual work starts, suddenly everything is pulled back. "We have flexible schedules!" says the official paperwork from HR, but the direct manager throws screaming fits if you walk in the door at 8:05 instead of 8:00. "You'll be able to focus on this great project!" says the hiring manager in the interview, but when the new employee shows up to work, that great project is on hold and instead, you get to clean up the messes from the last three people who were in this job. It's smart to ask around--it's like doing a background check on the company, just like companies do on the candidates.

5. Companies need great people.

So many senior executives think of themselves as great, benevolent people granting wishes by offering jobs. We should be thankful to the ones who give us jobs! All hail the boss! Now, while most people are grateful to their bosses for employment, the bosses need to remember that if they don't have employees, their paychecks disappear as well. When you pull a job offer from somebody for asking perfectly reasonable questions, you look bad. I suspect Zenefits just got knocked down on the list of preferred companies for a lot of talented engineers.

Published on: May 13, 2015
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