How to Know if a Candidate is Lying on Their Resume

Top talent is in great demand in the marketplace, and the best candidates are not easy to find. While a sense of urgency and a commitment to the process are both crucial to the success of the hiring process, so is being prudent and thorough during that process.

Let’s say, for instance, that you have an important open position that your organization needs to fill quickly. Time is of the essence, and you’re starting to the feel the pressure. Then you find a candidate who appears to be perfect. They have all of the requisite skills and experience needed, they interview well, and they’re willing to accept the starting salary that you offer to them.

Then, two weeks later, they begin their employment with your organization and the unfortunate truth emerges. That truth: they were less than honest about their skills and experience. In fact, they were lying about certain aspects of it, and the problem you thought you had solved is not only not gone, but now you have an even bigger problem.

This is a fictitious scenario that has its roots in every real case studies within the employment marketplace.

Supporting data about dishonesty

Adding to the gravity of this topic is that lying on resumes could very well be on the rise. That’s the take-away from a recent survey conducted by OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half International. In that survey, OfficeTeam asked survey participants if they knew somebody who included false information on a resume. The results: 46% indicated that they did.

OfficeTeam asked the same question on a survey that it conducted in 2011. At that time, only 21% of survey participants indicated that they knew somebody who included false information on a resume. (By the way, the OfficeTeam survey included more than 1,000 workers in the United States ages 18 or older and more than 300 senior managers.)

That’s more than twice as many people in a six-year time period. That’s a startling difference. So the obvious question is this one: why are so many more people including false information on their resume? After all, wouldn’t you think that they would be more prone to lying on their resume immediately after the Great Recession? While that seems to make sense, the numbers (at least the numbers associated with this survey) do not bear that out.

However, there IS a simple explanation for it, and it relates to themes that I’ve been writing about for some time in my newsletter articles and blog posts. First, we’re in a candidates’ market. The first rule of this kind of market is that candidates have more employment options and career opportunities available to them. The second rule is that the BEST candidates have the most options and opportunities.

As you might imagine, the best candidates have no reason to include false information on their resumes. That’s because they’re the best candidates. They possess all of the skills and experience necessary to be considered for the position. But what about those job seekers who are NOT top candidates? Well, that’s a different story.

These candidates are more prone to lying on their resume and even during the interview. That’s because they are not considered top candidates and there are a lot of opportunities available in the employment marketplace. As a result, they are tempted to do what is necessary to be considered for those opportunities, even though they are not a top candidate, and in some cases, they’re not a candidate at all.

3 BIG tell-tale signs of dishonesty

Motivation is another one of the themes I use frequently in my writing, and it’s also a part of this blog post. That’s because some job seekers who are not considered actual candidates for certain positions are using false information in an attempt to land those positions because they are motivated to do so. There are a lot of opportunities available in this current candidates’ market, and they want their “slice of the pie,” so to speak. With motivation often comes the temptation to do things that you should not do. In this case, that something is providing false information on a resume and/or lying during the face-to-face interview.

Here’s the good news: there are things that you can do to identify candidates who are providing false information. First, below are three big tell-tale signs of dishonesty:

#1—Missing dates or time incongruences on the resume

If there are lengths of time on the resume for which you can not account, then you should be wary. Is it necessarily a bad thing if a candidate has a job gap on their resume? No, but it would be far better for them to be honest about it than to attempt to cover it up.

#2—Ambiguous description of skills

This is the area about which candidates are dishonest the most, so it makes sense that they would get creative with their descriptions of them. That’s why clearly defined descriptions tied to specific accomplishments backed up with statistical data separate the contenders from the pretenders.

#3—Conflicting information from references

What the references tell you has to match what the candidate tells you, and vice-versa. Any discrepancies should not be simply dismissed. They must be investigated. It could be a loose string that, when tugged upon, reveals how the candidate has tried to “pull the wool over your eyes.”

Second, this is yet another area in which a search consultant can help. That’s because an experienced recruiter with a track record of success has dealt with thousands of candidates. Not only that, but they’ve also seen tens of thousands of resumes. They know what they’re looking at and they know what they’re looking for.

By enlisting the services of a recruiter, you can not only conduct a more targeted search, but you can also eliminate those job seekers who are not truly a fit for the position and more quickly find those candidates who are.

And THAT, by way of contrast, is the truth.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals, to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.