Outsmart dishonest job candidates

A new study reveals how recruiters can foil dishonest job candidates.

Here’s the thing: for recruiters, it’s very common to see candidates attempt to weasel their way into a job.
In fact, a significant number of candidates give in to the temptation to lie on a resumé without giving a second thought about how it could dent their reputation, or even get them fired once the employer discovers their fibs.

Question is, how often do job seekers cross the line and lie on resumés when applying for jobs?
Here at ResumeLab, we recently ran a survey of over 1,000 people in an effort to answer that question and more. Specifically, we set out on a mission to know why job candidates lie and what leads them to such decisions.

Keep reading to see our core findings as well as actionable steps recruiters can take to avoid getting stung by deceitful candidates.

Lies all around

So, do job seekers actually lie? Based on our data, lying on a resumé is extremely common among working professionals. In fact, a vast majority of professionals (93 percent) know someone who lied on a resumé when job hunting.

There’s more. When we turned the tables on our respondents and asked if they ever lied on a resumé themselves, a full 56 percent said, “Yes”.

What do job seekers lie about the most?

  • Experience (27 percent);
  • Skills (18 percent); and
  • Job duties (17 percent).

Interestingly, people don’t really lie about certifications. Perhaps, that’s because they are relatively easy to look up.

On that note, according to our findings, only 30 percent of job seekers ever got caught. Of those individuals who were caught, 65 percent were either fired or not hired.

In essence, only 21 percent of people who lied on their resumés paid the price of losing a job or being passed up on one.

Lying by gender and age

Is there a sex and age chasm when it comes to lying on a resumé?

Turns out men (58 percent) lie more often than women (41 percent) on a resumé. Perhaps this stems from the fact that males, in general, are more inclined toward taking risks.

When it comes to age, 38 percent of young people (aged 18-39) confess to lying more often than older people (aged 40+, 30%).

It’s quite surprising as, the longer you are alive, the higher the odds that you lie at some point in your career.

Lastly, we also decided to break down the data by industry.

We found out that:

  • business and retail professionals lie nearly 50 percent of the time on resumes; and
  • education and healthcare professionals (30 percent) are the least likely to lie.

Why do people lie?

Now onto the fun part.

At this point, we wanted to pinpoint systematic reasons that cause job seekers to lie on a resumé.
The common reasons?

  • I was unemployed for an extended time (37 percent);
  • I wanted a higher salary for that position (18 percent);
  • I didn’t think I’d get caught (18 percent); and
  • I wasn’t qualified for the job (17 percent).

It’s worth noting that we also asked job seekers about what made them refrain from lying on a resumé.
It turned out that 38 percent avoid putting deceitful information because of the moral implications of lying. Another reason for 31 percent of people was that they were afraid they’d get caught.

Untangling a web of lies

Surprisingly or not, one thing is clear: stretching the truth on a resumé when job hunting is nothing short of common among job seekers.

Good news?

There some actionable steps recruiters can take to foil dishonest candidates and avoid costly hiring mistakes.

First, cement background checks into your recruitment routines:

  • When reviewing a candidate’s application, ensure the information matches (story-wise) across their resumé, cover letter, as well as LinkedIn profile; and
  • Call up the person’s references and verify job titles, dates of employment and core job duties.

Next, because quite a lot of candidates lie about their skills, it’s a good idea to put the latter to the test to avoid surprises.

How? Ask candidates to:

  • complete pre-employment test assignment; and
  • perform an SHL assessment.

It’s also a good idea to probe potential hires with behavioural interview questions.

For example, if, during a job interview, a job seeker claims they are good at, say, Excel, ask them how they would go about creating a Pivot Table.

Lastly, HR teams should consider setting out consequences for presenting false information throughout the hiring process.

This way, if things go south, your company will be able to terminate the person’s contract lawfully without trouble.

Pete Sosnowski is VP and Co-Founder at ResumeLab, resumelab.com, headquartered in Warsaw, Poland. With 7+ years of recruiting experience in top companies, Pete’s experience includes managing diversified teams and complex HR projects. You can find him on LinkedIn.

Read Previous

Practise positive psychology

Read Next

How to beat burnout in 2020