Home / HR Strategies / Employment Screening / What are the most common lies told by job applicants?

What are the most common lies told by job applicants?

What are the most common lies told by job applicants?

In the business world, every employee has the potential to impact your company's performance, culture and bottom line. That makes it crucial to avoid hiring the wrong candidate, which could result in a costly and even critical mistake. Those costs are often a result of falsified information included on the candidate's CV.

Job seekers often exaggerate, falsify credentials and even lie outright on their job applications. Even if a candidate's embellished resume does not constitute actual fraud, an employer's reliance on inaccurate or inflated information may result in a poor hiring decision.  For this reason, businesses should consider comprehensive background checks that are specifically designed to uncover dishonest or exaggerated information on resumes and in job applications.  

While sometimes thought of as a common practice of large organisations, background checking is also important for small businesses.

Job candidates are more likely to lie to small businesses because they assume that the companies are less likely to perform background checks on their candidates. Although more and more small businesses are performing professional, enterprise-quality background screening today, job seekers still try to get away with it.

Identifying job candidates who lie on their CV can be tricky and time consuming. Hiring an outside background screening company to perform a background check can uncover applicants who submit false information when applying for a job.

Employers should beware of the following tactics that some candidates use to embellish or even falsify their CVs:

  • Exaggerating dates of past employment – Candidates often stretch the truth to cover gaps in their work history that they may not want to explain. Sometimes discrepancies are the result of an honest mistake, but employers should always verify employment dates.
  • Falsifying qualifications earned – A candidate will sometimes claim that they earned a particular degree, when he or she actually only took some relevant classes, or their CV might exaggerate a grade so they appear more qualified for the job. Other candidates forge diplomas, claim degrees earned by family members, or purchase degrees from diploma mills. The latter can be very difficult to identify, but knowledgeable background checking firms compile detailed databases so frauds can be identified.
  • Inflating job title and salary – It's hardly surprising that a candidate might exaggerate these important facts to get a better job or a higher salary. That's why companies typically contact previous employers to verify positions held by the candidate. Salary verification can be more difficult since many companies will not reveal this information, although they may verify the salary range for a particular job or class of jobs.
  • Concealing a criminal record – The most important reason that many companies perform background checks is to maintain a safe workplace or to mitigate risk. Compliance is also a key reason why some companies do background checks. Some industries, such as financial services and healthcare, require employers to obtain criminal background information on applicants, often by job type.
  • Hiding a drug habit – Whether an employer supports a drug-free workplace or is required by regulatory agencies to perform drug tests for certain positions, employers should be aware of the tactics that some candidates employ in order to hide a drug habit. Some drug users go to great lengths in attempt to beat these tests, but today's drug tests are increasingly sophisticated and can identify true positives and negatives despite the attempts of those trying to cover up drug use. 

With so much at stake, it pays for employers to take the time to check that applicants are being honest for the good of your business, your employees and your customers.