The most common areas candidates falsify
The first blog in this series presented research on the extent of dishonesty through the interview process. At Topgrading, Inc. we’ve conducted over 6,500 interviews and in our experience about 40% of resumes contain fiction and those 40% lie in interviews. This blog presents our findings on what candidates lie about.
While the research around this topic at times lacks academic rigor, various articles state that resumes contain intentional inaccuracies 25%-86% of the time which, in turn, convert into lies:
- Claiming unearned education credentials (e.g. college or advanced degree)
- Concealing criminal records (but be careful, there are all sorts of laws making it legal for candidates to conceal some offenses)
- Inflated salary history
- Exaggerated accomplishments or results (taking individual credit for a group success, for example)
- Altered employment dates (to hide times they were unemployed or to hide short-term jobs that did not work out)
- Falsified professional license credentials (it’s unfortunate that companies do not do background checks)
- Made up experience at “ghost” companies (I once interviewed a candidate for Sales VP who, under pressure from me) admitted, “Almost all of my resume – education and jobs – is baloney.”)
- Fake references
Are some lies okay? After all, everyone bends the truth sometimes. Some “little white lies” like hiding failed jobs don’t really reflect my true capabilities, right? Wrong! We’ve interviewed candidates prescreened with a “truth serum,” so that our clients hire impeccably honest people. In all of our combined years, with 17,000+ interviews, clients have almost never felt blind-sided, or conned by candidates. We only recommend hiring people who are rock solid in integrity – otherwise, how in the world could you trust them?
We’ll pick-up this blog series early next year with how costly mis-hires are (blog #3), and how to get the truth from candidates (blog #4).
I welcome you to share your experience or comments on this blog series.
At some point in our career, we’ll be won over by a candidate who conceals their low performance by exaggerating their qualifications and performance on their resume and in interviews. We eventually realized we were conned because they failed to perform even close to how they portrayed themselves in the hiring processes. Candidates may bend the truth to get better jobs, of course, but the more important point is this: reference calls are almost worthless. While there are noted exceptions, most books I’ve found on how to get a job reinforce to candidates that hyping their accomplishments and hiding their mistakes are key to getting hired. Some books even teach readers how to do it.
This blog series shares evidence of just how extensive the lies are (blogs 1), what the most common lies are (blog 2), how costly mis-hires are (blog 3), and how to get the truth from candidates (blog 4).
Statistics on Dishonesty
A few years ago, at a conference in Hawaii, I heard that 90% of candidates admitted to lying on their resume. Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt’s book “Freakonomics” states that over 50% of resumes contain lies. As a Ph.D. in organizational psychology I’ve acquired a strong interest in NOT being taken in by misleading stats. Below are listed a number of statistics that support the level of misleading and dishonesty in the interview and hiring process, but CAUTION: these stats lack scientific rigor.
- BackgroundCheck.org: 57% lied on their resume
- SHRM: 86% of 4,000 HR members surveyed found lies when they vetted resumes, up from 66% five years ago
- Employee Screen IQ: 50% discrepancies on job history
- Time Magazine (2006) article: 43% lies on resumes
- HireRight: 27% serious lies on resumes
- GradSchoolHub.com: 53% of resumes and job applications contain falsifications
- Stanford U. experiment: 92% of students lied on both resume and their LinkedIn profile when offered prize of $100 for creating the resume best fitting a job they wanted
How do you interpret all of this? We at Topgrading, Inc. have a collective best guess and that is: at least 40% of resumes contain deliberate falsehoods. Because we’ve interviewed over 15,000 candidates for hire, our “best guess” is that all of those 40% misrepresent their accomplishments and work history in interviews, too.
Don’t miss my blog next week that sheds light on what candidates are lying about.
Have you come across any additional sources that support these stats do you have stats or experiences of your own to share? Please leave a comment.