Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

How to Spot Lies in a CV

With new research from Robert Half’s Office Team suggesting that nearly half of candidate’s lie within their CV (a 25% increase from their 2011 survey) as a recruiter you need to enhance your ability to spot those white lies.

Using probing questions, fine-tuning your sifting skills and going beyond simply looking at CVs will help you eliminate some of the stretched-truths. Ensuring that you look beyond the CV to properly qualify candidates will increase your ability to place candidates who truly add long-term value,

Below are the methods you need to put in place to ensure that no candidate lies can get passed your screening process.

Run common sense checks

Review candidate’s CVs in line with the level of experience they have included, considering what is reasonable for a candidate in a specific job sector or position to have achieved in their career.

For example, if you’re filtering through candidate CVs for a sales administration role and you notice a candidate who has come from an admin background, reflect how likely it is that they would have achieved the top sales stats in a company. If this was the case wouldn’t the candidate be in a sales consultant role or have been promoted as part of this unexpected achievement?

Do the accomplishments they have embedded in their CV seem too good to be true? If so, this may be a sign that they are making exaggerations. Look to find any explanations they have provided or facts and figures to verify these experiences in line with their skill set and career level.

Up your phone screening game

When reviewing a candidate CV, make detailed notes on any information which needs further clarification before calling them. This will enable you to tailor your questioning during an initial phone screening, pinpointing any areas that are unclear or any gaps in experience.

Probe further into any details that seem a little dubious and listen for signs of uncertainty in their answers. Many candidates find it easier to bend the truth or exaggerate within their CV, but they aren’t as confident repeating them when questioned over the phone.

If you’re still not convinced by a response, look to add additional questions that focus in on the same subject area and look for any signs of details that don’t add up.

Double check against LinkedIn

LinkedIn acts as an online CV for many candidates where they’re able to exhibit their skills and experience. As this is a public profile, information about a candidate’s current job title, duties or accomplishments tend to be more accurate.

Candidates are less likely to lie about this information when their contacts which can include current colleagues or even their manager can review these details.

LinkedIn also allows you an insight into any endorsements or testimonials a candidate has online which could validate areas of their CV. Research the type of content they share or like to confirm their interests or the role they have within an organization.

Reach out to contacts

If the lies got passed your initial CV review and your interview probes weren’t enough to expose what was fact or fiction within a candidate’s experience, then background checks can be a final stage.

Referencing their previous employers or qualifying their qualifications with their educational institutes are simple ways to establish their actual achievements. Candidates occasionally leave contacts details for their references at the bottom of their CV, so get permission and reach out to these contacts for validation.

LinkedIn now makes this process much easier for when candidates don’t provide this information freely. Review their testimonials and search through their endorsements to verify their CV. Make sure to question any details within their CV, questioning shouldn’t be limited to the candidate directly but also their network.

If a candidate was referred by another employee or colleague, then look to get further information from that individual.

Finding the truth is an essential skill when considering whether a candidate is right for a position and is especially required if you’re doubting any of the information provided within their application.

Make notes on the areas of their experience that don’t quite seem right and home in on these within an initial screening process, using their responses and reactions to identify what is truth and what is a lie. Double checking information before presenting candidates for 1st interviews or furthering them along the application process.

Promote an environment for the candidate to be honest and open about their skills and experience allowing you to then decide how lying about any aspects in their CV affects their honesty and integrity moving forward in the process.

Reveal lies as early as possible in the recruitment process, means you don’t have unexpected surprises at the referencing stage or during the offer process.

By Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter, and founder of CV writing service  StandOut CV. He also contributes to a number of leading career pages such as The Guardian, Business Insider and Huffington Post.