Are Your Job Candidates Lying on Resumes? What To Do About It

May 16, 2016 Pete Jansons

When it comes to hiring for your small business, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. The consequences of making a bad hire can be costly in more ways than one – from time and resources wasted on the hiring process to lost revenue. Unfortunately, hiring mistakes happen to the best of us. It certainly doesn’t help when job candidates misrepresent themselves on their resumes.

According to a 2015 CareerBuilder study, 54 percent of small business employers have caught a lie on a resume. When asked to name the most common areas around which job seekers lie, these employers named the following:

  • Embellished skill sets: 61 percent
  • Embellished responsibilities: 55 percent
  • Dates of employment: 41 percent
  • Job titles: 30 percent
  • Academic degrees: 26 percent

Some job seekers are savvier about hiding their lies, and employers may not discovered their mistruths until it’s too late – when the person has already been hired and his or her actual performance negates the resume. One of the best ways to prevent such mistakes – and future regret – is to do a routine background check. Then, use a few relatively easy sleuthing tactics before extending an offer. Consider the following tips:

Explore possible red flags. Never heard of the candidate’s alma mater or past employer? Check to make sure the place exists. Does a list of past responsibilities seem unlikely for a given job title? Ask the job seeker to walk you through the daily tasks of her last position.

Watch for inconsistencies. Listen carefully during the job interview. If the candidate’s responses to questions don’t seem to coincide with the information stated on the resume, address the issue and probe for specifics.

Let the candidate know you’re going to check. Liars and “fudgers” may decide to come clean or deflate their claims when told matter-of-factly during an interview that you make a point of checking out all resume information before hiring anyone. Regardless of how much verifying you actually intend to do, putting the idea out there may have an applicant scrambling to tell a new, more accurate story.

Try a quick quiz. Using jargon appropriate to the position, construct a true-to-life job situation. Ask the person how he or she would handle the scenario and why. If the applicant seems confused or gives an off-track answer, you may need to require more proof of competency. Legit candidates won’t mind taking an editing test, solving a coding problem, or constructing a short PowerPoint in order to demonstrate their abilities.

Contact references. While it can be time-consuming, following up with the candidate’s references will save you time and frustration in the long run. You might find out surprising information about length of employment or performance. Call them on the phone instead of simply emailing them. Why? Verbal cues such as hesitations or lack of enthusiasm can speak volumes.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy



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