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Are Most of Your Job Candidates Lying?

Have you ever spotted a lie on a resume or in an interview? It’s more common than you think. The latest research from CareerBuilder found that more than half of employers have caught a lie on a resume. Most of these lies are about embellished skill sets (62 percent), while more than half included embellished responsibilities and nearly 40 percent include misrepresented dates of employment. Rounding out the list of the most common lies are phony job titles (31 percent) and academic degrees (28 percent).

We decided to ask employers ourselves what types of lies they’ve uncovered and how they handled the situation once they found out. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “I’ve caught interviewees or recent hires lying numerous times. It either sticks out on their resume or [becomes apparent] once they get into the position and can’t perform the task they said they could. I usually wind up having to fire them.”
  • “Recently, I caught someone lying on an application [but] I’m not the person who can send them packing. The boss would rather have a warm body than none at all. [That is tough] to deal with.”
  • “I’ve caught employees embellishing the truth a little but, to me, that’s marketing. Have you ever seen a successful ‘boring’ marketing campaign? I don’t think there’s any resume out there that’s 100 percent accurate and true. [Candidates] have to and are almost forced into [embellishing] to make their resumes stand out among the vast number of competitors.”
  • “[I’ve seen it happen] plenty of times on applications, especially in regards to criminal history. And, if that’s the case, they are terminated.”
  • “Answers [to my interview questions] sounded too good, [so I] checked references. Those checked out. I called the previous employer [and] got a different story. Then I invited them back in to explain. No show.”
  • “I contacted one of his previous employers, and they provided correct info, plus they highly recommended I perform a public records inquiry. The results of the inquiry revealed even more awful stuff. I wouldn’t have gone the extra mile had he not scored so well on his pre-employment testing. I sent him a generic form e-mail letting him know we were moving on to other candidates.”
  • “[A candidate once] explained a resume gap in an interview as ‘Stage 4 H1N1.’ I work at the health department with doctors and nurses: not a good place to make up a health issue. She didn’t get a call back.”
  • “An item [on the resume] got my attention and, during the interview, I drilled down for detail. He clearly had no clue and the interview was over.”


Keep in mind the shocking statistics we shared at the beginning of this post incorporate lies that were discovered. Seven in 10 employers spend less than five minutes reviewing a resume and more than one in two have caught a lie on a resume. Imagine the percentage of lies that are never uncovered.

Does that bother you? Why or why not? This interesting Reddit string started with the question, “HR people…what SHOULD we lie about on our resumes?” Within the nearly 6,000 answers, there were some valid points raised. For instance, do you expect candidates to embellish their salary histories, if asked to provide them? Do you hold it against them if they do?

Get ready to brush up on your detective skills next month as we keep the conversation going with ways to tell if a job candidate is lying, including working with a reputable staffing agency and having a process in place that weeds out candidates who are untruthful.


Image Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo