How to Spot Lies on a Resume
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Nearly half of all people have either lied on a resume or know someone who has. Unfortunately, as HR professionals, that means we need to take what we see on resumes and CVs with a grain of salt and do a little bit of legwork to separate the trustworthy candidates from the deceptive.
People Lie on Resumes for Lots of Reasons
Although honesty is always the best policy, people lie for seemingly noble reasons at times. They may be afraid that the time they took off to care for a sick relative will damage their chances, so they’ll adjust dates or only write in the years instead of the months. They might have nearly finished a degree, but fell a couple of credits short, but they’ll put their schooling in with a degree anyway.
Then, there are those who are simply unqualified. They may add in skills they don’t have, jobs they never worked in positions they never held, and so forth. Ultimately, it’s up to you to sort out who is really telling the truth and decide whether it’s a deal-breaker or not.
How to Spot a Lie on a Resume
1. Sense it. Maybe you’ve read the candidate’s list of skills and they don’t seem to fit with their prior jobs or perhaps the achievements are unusually high. You can ask questions to get to the bottom of it or perform research on the side.
2. Google the candidate. Running the person’s name through a search engine can turn up all sorts of stuff, from their job history through addresses and criminal past.
3. Hit LinkedIn. Most professionals keep a full resume on their profile and it’s much harder to fudge details or rib there because of all the connections. Compare the real resume to the LinkedIn profile for further verification.
4. Use skill tests. A skill test can help clear up whether the individual really possesses the skills he or she claims to.
5. Perform a thorough phone screening. Make notes while reviewing the resume and highlight anything that seems odd or inconsistent. Go over the information in detail and ask lots of questions to see if things match up.
6. Check references. Talk to the candidate in advance and let them know you’ll be contacting references, former schools, and previous employers, and then ask what the candidate thinks each will have to say. Granted, candidates may not want you to connect with current employers who don’t know they’re looking and those they didn’t have a good experience with, but they should have people they can connect you with who will confirm what they’re saying.
Speak with an HR Consultant
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