Six ways to catch resume lies

From stretching the truth to exaggerating experience, candidates are increasingly embellishing their resumes. Here’s how to spot a fraudster.

Six ways to catch resume lies
ending on who – and how – you ask, between 40 and 78 per cent of applicants admit to lying on their resumes. Here are six top tips to help HR professionals spot less-than-honest accolades and prevent potentially costly hiring mistakes.

Perform a full background check

Really, this should go without saying but too many HR professionals take for granted that applicants are telling the truth insists career expert Heather Huhman.

“Contact the university where the candidate claimed to have received a degree. Does the university have record of the candidate? Did the university offer its program at the time the candidate claims to have graduated? Complete calls to former employers. Ensure the candidate’s employment timelines and salary claims are truthful.”

Social media sleuthing

It’s now common practice to have separate social media accounts for our personal and professional lives but examining them alongside one another can help HR professionals spot any discrepancies.

From photographs of graduation ceremonies to angry statuses about being sacked – personal social media accounts can tell a very different story to what professional platforms portray.

Huhman says hard-core sleuths can even check to see if applicants are “highly active during normal business hours.”

Tell it to my face

Hiding behind a screen makes it easier to lie, says Brigham Young University information systems professor Tom Meservy – “because people can easily conceal their identity and their messages often appear credible.”


So if candidates are pushing you towards text-based communication, that’s a red flag – the sooner they’re sitting in front of you, the sooner you’ll be able to read their body language and decide whether you trust them, says Meservy.

Let’s get specific

“Flukes will pad their resumes with a generic fact like, ‘Honoured as a “Who’s Who in Business” by an influential paper,’” says Huhman. “Ask the candidate for the specific paper. Oftentimes that influential paper turns out to be a hometown circular.”

Put them to the test

Rather than have candidates do another round of interviews, why not wean out the ones who simply don’t have the skills set by giving them a practical test?

Monica Rogati, VP of data at Jawbone, gives candidates a dataset and three hours to solve it, revealing their technical skill, creativity, and communication.

Interview in the morning

We’re not sure how much weight this one really holds but ethics researchers from Harvard University and the University of Utah found that people’s moral willpower dwindles as the day goes on.

Maryham Kouchaki and Isaac Smith found that people are more morally aware in the morning and are more likely to engage in unethical behaviours in the afternoon.

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