Liar, Liar, Pants for Hire

Want help with your hiring? It's easy. Enter your information below, and we'll quickly reach out to discuss your hiring needs.

Politician swearing an oath with fingers crossed behind backEveryone knows at least one person who stretches the truth too much. But what happens when those people are applying for jobs? Jobs in your company? White lies may not seem like a big deal, but what happens when they appear on a resume? What do you do when you don’t catch the white lies in the interview? Canadian companies have the right to terminate the employee after they are hired if professional misrepresentations are unearthed. Does your employment policy have similar protections?

It is never okay for a candidate to lie on a resume, but it can become a difficult question when your top pick fabricates his or her professional history. This question then comes into play: If the individual is okay with lying about his or her professional past, is he or she morally sound enough for a professional future with your company? One white lie on something as big as a resume is a sure bet that there will be more on corporate projects and daily work. With nearly 40 percent of candidates lying on resumes to get the perfect job, it is important to do your research as a recruiter. You can take steps to make sure that you don’t get swindled by candidates who falsify facts.

Look for the Lies

You may be wondering where the candidates are most likely to lie. Well, with 78 percent of all resumes being misleading in some way, it’s pretty easy. People will even go as far as lying on a professional social site, such as LinkedIn. They are likely to lie about employment gaps, education, titles, and subject expertise. Candidates stretch the truth about employment gaps in fear of not being able to explain them well enough.  A lie in education could revolve around the specific degree, the school, or even the date of graduation. But all four of these areas of potential misrepresentation can be avoided if you ask the right questions during the interview.

Ask the Right Questions

This is the best opportunity to verify facts on a candidate’s resume. If you are unsure of training or information on the application, don’t hesitate to authenticate it. If they state leadership skills you are doubtful of, ask them to give examples of their leadership style or a time when their leadership was needed. Projects they led, had a major part, or something similar where the candidate has tangible proof are some good examples of leadership proof. With that being said, it wouldn’t be a good idea to simply ask the candidate if he or she is lying. You can, however, ask technical questions regarding the person’s training or qualifications he or she may claim to have.

Ask Others

Candidates may not only fabricate technical abilities, there is a chance they could lie about their professional history. Professional reference checks are quite possibly the best way to overcome these application blunders so you can bypass the candidates that are less than truthful. Contact their references. The candidate gave you their names and numbers for a reason, right? Studies show that 27 percent of people will falsify references, so it’s best to check up on them. While personal references aren’t bad, they aren’t the best if you are concerned with professional falsehoods.

Do your Research

It is important to do background checks on your potential new employees. Candidates may stretch employment time to hide the fact they were fired or downsized, had an illness, or even to conceal jail time. Ten percent of candidates have some sort of criminal past. While this may not be problematic in your organization, there are companies who need to ensure there are “no skeletons in the closet” during the hiring process. Doing background checks will reveal important information regarding criminal pasts the candidate might not allude to. Omitting information like this, well, it may as well be a lie.

Also, be sure to use a company that is accredited when you are doing a background check; otherwise, you may as well not do one. Since background records check criminal, living, and employment histories, this is a great way to find holes in your candidates’ resumes.

It’s not Always Black and White

Now, while there shouldn’t be lies on any of the resumes you have sitting on your desk waiting for review, most of them won’t have the candidate’s full employment history. That’s okay. Since most resumes aren’t going to be any longer than one or two pages, you shouldn’t expect to know their whole employment history. It’s okay if they embellish a little on their skills. A little being they have used Microsoft Excel before, but they haven’t touched it in years. In fact 13 percent of people would at least consider lying on a resume. Candidates may also lie for other reasons, such as a Draconian hiring policy, spotty credit record, or to hide a disappointing former reference. Does your job as a recruiter give them the opportunity to open up about these issues during the initial screening so they aren’t compelled to hide these things? If they still do, give ‘em the ax.

It’s not okay to lie on a resume. When all is said and done, it is your call as a recruiter who you decide to hire. You can follow a few easy steps to try and skip those who lie on their resumes or even their applications.

Are you willing to hire someone who has lied on a resume simply to get the job?

Read more in Resume

Sarah Duke is a Content Creator at Red Branch Media, a marketing and advertising firm that serves the Human Resources and Recruiting markets. Red Branch Media has grown from a simple consultancy to a full-service B2B marketing agency. Duke brings a history of Public Affairs experience to Red Branch and enjoys writing about the HCM Marketplace.
Google+ Profile