Human Resources News & Insights

Lying in the hiring process: What HR needs to know

People lie all the time during the hiring process. It’s up to HR and hiring managers to catch those liars. Where are those fibs being told — and how can you prevent them?

Resume lies

In this intense job market, it’s no surprise that many applicants exaggerate parts of their resumes to look more enticing to potential employers.

The concept is so widespread, however, that nearly half of all applicants admit to lying on their resumes.

That’s according to a 2009 study from ADP, which found that 46% of all applicants commit some form of resume fraud.

Where are those lies being concentrated? Here are the 10 most common lies on resumes, courtesy of Marquet International:

  1. Stretching work dates
  2. Inflating past accomplishments and skills
  3. Enhancing job titles and responsibilities
  4. Exaggerating educational background
  5. Inventing periods of “self-employment” to cover up unemployment
  6. Omitting past employment
  7. Faking credentials
  8. Falsifying reasons for leaving prior employment
  9. Providing false references, and
  10. Misrepresenting a military record.

Interviewing lies

Your job would be a lot easier if you could easily spot those resume lies and nix those candidates from consideration.

But no matter how clued in you are to what applicants fib about, you’ll still inadvertently bring many of them in for interviews.

That’s when your skills at judging character come in. So who’s the best at screening potential talent? Is it someone who’s skeptical and suspicious about most applicants, or a person who’s trusting?

If you guessed that skeptical managers would do a better job, you’re not alone. You’re also wrong.

That’s according to a recent study from psychologists Nancy Carter and Mark Weber, which was recently highlighted in The Washington Post.

A large majority (85%) of participants said a skeptical interviewer would do a better job spotting dishonesty in job interviews.

But a subsequent study found that people who trust others — or who assume the best in other people — are the best at identifying liars.

How’s this so? Adam Grant of The Washington Post explains:

… lie-detection skills cause people to become more trusting. If you’re good at spotting lies, you need to worry less about being deceived by others, because you can often catch them in the act.

Another possibility: People who trust others become better at reading other people because they get to see a range of emotions during their interactions. That gives them more experiences to draw from to tell when someone is lying and when someone is telling the truth.

Grant leaves employers with some advice on who they should have in the interviewer role to prevent applicants from duping you into hiring them:

… we need leaders who demonstrate skill in recognizing dishonesty. Instead of delegating these judgments to skeptics, it could be wiser to hand over the hiring interviews to those in your organization who tend to see the best in others. It’s the Samaritans who can smoke out the charlatans.

Of course, faith in others can go too far. It’s important to sprinkle a few ounces of skepticism into each pound of trust. Ultimately, while the best leaders don’t trust all of the people all of the time, the keenest judges of character may be the leaders who trust most of the people most of the time.

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