Barbecue grill flameThis is never a nice subject for an article, but it shouldn’t be ignored, because the truth is that some applicants lie during their applications and interview processes. Yes, a Career Builder survey shows that 49 percent of 3,000 hiring managers surveyed had caught a candidate lying.

Of course, it is not always easy to spot a lie, and it can take a lot of time and resources verifying each aspect of a candidate’s application. This means that it can make sense to adopt a more targeted approach where you focus in and scrutinize the areas where people are most likely to lie, (hotspots) which means you are deploying your investigative resources in the most efficient and effective way possible, hopefully increasing your lie detection rate.

So, just what are the most common lies told by applicants? According to this analysis of two studies by CareerBuilder and HireRight, they are:

1. Exaggerating previous employment dates. HireRight found that around a third of applications include discrepancies around dates and CareerBuilder discovered that this was the third most common lie found on a resume, representing 10 percent of lies. It may seem surprising that one of the most common type of lies is exaggerating employment dates and not exaggerating key skills, although perhaps given the massive stigma that surrounds the long-term unemployed, it isn’t that surprising that this section is a hotspot for lies and false information

2. Exaggerating responsibilities. This was the most common type of resume lie according to CareerBuilder (by some way), representing 38 percent of all resume lies. HireRight also found that inflating salary history or title held was one of the most common lies told. So, make sure that your verification process does some spot checking in this area.

3. Falsifying degrees or certificates. It’s staggering that this is one of the most common areas for lying since it is so easy for employers to check this and most employers will. Nonetheless, HireRight found a 20 percent discrepancy rate in information provided by candidates relating to their education and qualifications. CareerBuilder found that 10 percent of lies found on resumes related to their degree and 18 percent related to their skills. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t take degrees or skills for granted and you should verify them.

4. Companies worked for. Interestingly, CareerBuilder found that 7 percent of discrepancies that were discovered on resumes were linked to companies worked for. This is not surprising as good corporate and employer brands reflect well on a resume, and so applicants could be tempted to lie to make it appear that they have worked for a top brand.

If it does happen, it’s likely to occur two or three jobs back as employers often only ask for a reference from a previous employer or they let the candidate choose the employer. To combat this, you might want to ask for references from two or more former employers and select which ones yourself.

So, if you want to ensure that applicants ‘do what it says on the tin’, I’d strongly recommend that your lie detection processes are focused around these four areas.

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