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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. Who Are You Really Hiring?

February 1, 2014

By: Jennifer Lucas

Lying on a job application is nothing new.  But, with the economy in turmoil and jobs more difficult to secure, the amount of people who take chances and exaggerate on a resume or application has grown exponentially.

It is estimated that 40% of people applying for a job have exaggerated some of their resume.  Once you post a job, and a flood of resumes come in, how do you weed through all potential candidates to decide which resumes are a true reflection of the candidate?

What are some of the most common lies hiring managers to hear when interviewing candidates for an open job position?

  • Age
  • Past salary information
  • Drug use or an arrest record
  • Termination for cause
  • Education / degrees
  • Skills and experience

What makes a potential employee decide to risk it all and submit false information? The chances are that at some point, the person will be caught.  Even so, some people will do or say anything to get their dream job.  Others feel that the only way to get to the top is to fudge some facts along the way.

Here are a few reasons why people hide the truth in today’s job market:

Fear of ageism:

It can propel a candidate to put incorrect dates down for school years or adjust the dates of when they were employed at other jobs.  It’s no secret that many employers look for young, fresh talent.  Older individuals are often thought of as past their prime, not up to date on new technology, or just passing the time until they can retire.


Some candidates lie about a past salary in hopes of making a higher income.


A potential employee might reconfigure employment dates to hide jail time, being fired, or having long periods of unemployment.  Also, be aware of the person who shows a period of time where they state they were self-employed.  There might be validity to self-employment, or it could be another way to hide a stretch of time that they don’t want to explain.


Looking to gain a more prominent job, many candidates will falsify having a college degree or exaggerate their training and experience.  Watch out for generalizations regarding projects that they lead or sales quotas they met.

How do you protect yourself from hiring a person who has falsified information?  To verify any inconsistencies on a resume, application, or interview, employers need to find proactive ways to ensure they are getting the right employee.

Here are a few tactics you can use to make sure you are hiring the right candidate for the job:

Always perform a background check.  

A background check will inform you of a criminal record, great lengths of time unemployed, and the accuracy of working at the jobs listed on a resume or application. Be sure to get a release form first.

Check dates of employment and make sure to get references you can call for verification.  

A good way to determine if their job titles are accurate, how people feel about the candidate and why they left the job.

Use a behavioral assessment tool.

All candidates can have their 15 minutes of fame in the interview, but what will they be like in three months? Find out who is behind the resume!

Administer a pre-employment job screening test.  

This is a great way to check the skills a potential hire mentioned on their resume.

Perform drug testing on all potential employees.  

A drug test is a quick and easy way to make sure the person you would like to hire can pass a drug test.  Passing a drug test should be discussed by potential employees.  They should be aware that being hired is contingent on passing a drug screening.

Have the person come back for a second interview.  

Make notes during the first interview and go over those same points during the second interview.  Check the previous answers to look for any inconsistencies between the first and second interviews.

Verify a degree with the college the person attended.  

The potential hire might not have graduated, graduated with a different degree than what was stated, or might not have gone to the school at all. This can sometimes be handled by the background check.

Being aware of potential employees' ways might mislead you, and take action can save your company from making a time-consuming and costly hiring mistake.

Jennifer Lucas

Jennifer originally joined The Omnia Group in 2005 as an analyst. After a brief stint away to work in project management and to start a family, her fascination with behavioral assessments pulled her back. She returned in 2011 as a member of the in-house analyst/project team. She writes and edits Custom Profiles, Targets, special projects, and articles. She enjoys being able to provide guidance to build effective, productive teams and help find strong matches for both clients and candidates.

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