Too Good to Be True: 6 Signs a Candidate Is Lying About Their Experience

When hiring a new employee, ensuring the chosen candidate is genuinely able to excel in the position is essential. While most hiring managers hope they can trust applicants to remain honest during the process, not all job seekers are as forthright as one would like. Some candidates may outright lie about what they bring to the table, while others may embellish to make themselves seem like a stronger fit.

Fortunately, there are some indications that a job seeker isn’t being truthful. Here’s a look at six signs a candidate is lying about their experience.

1. Inconsistencies

When job seekers aren’t honest, inconsistencies about their experience usually pop up. Their resume may not match their LinkedIn profile, or the employment dates, achievements, duties, or job titles they discuss in their interview answers might not align with their application. Usually, that’s because it’s hard to keep lies straight, causing the applicant to make mistakes when covering the information in multiple places or ways.

While a small slip-up, like an employment starting date being less than one month off, may simply be an honest mistake, several inconsistencies are a red flag. As a result, it’s wise to ask follow-up questions to see if the job seeker isn’t being honest or use reference checks to see if you can validate the claims.

2. Low Levels of Detail

When a candidate gives incredibly vague responses when discussing their duties or achievements, that could be a sign that a job seeker isn’t being honest. A lack of detail makes it less likely that they’ll reveal their dishonesty during an interview by making a mistake, so it’s a strategy some applicants may try.

If a candidate isn’t being reasonably detailed during an interview, ask follow-up questions to try and gather more information. If they won’t provide further insights, that could be a sign that they’re masking a lack of experience.

3. Issues with Technical Questions

In many cases, candidates who lie about their experience struggle with technical questions relating to the specific job niche. For example, they might not be able to explain how a technology is used in various scenarios since they don’t actually have experience with the solution.

While lacking familiarity with one technical process or tool isn’t inherently a sign of trouble if many companies use alternative solutions or approaches, struggling with several technical questions is worrisome. Try asking situational questions where candidates can discuss the technologies of their choosing in their responses. If the candidate can’t do that either, then they’re likely not as experienced as they claim.

4. Discussing Group Achievements

Referring to the accomplishments of a group – such as their current team – without digging into their personal contributions is a red flag. While collaboration is common in many roles, most job seekers will provide insights into the role they played in an achievement. If an applicant primarily discusses group accomplishments, ask follow-up questions about their personal contributions. If they struggle, they may be less capable than they seem.

5. Defensiveness

If an applicant gets defensive during an interview, particularly when you’re asking questions that require in-depth responses about their background, that’s a bad sign. Often, defensiveness is a reaction designed to fight back against providing an answer. If the candidate was suitably capable and experienced, they’d be able to give a proper response. However, if they inflated their resume, they may try fighting back or deflecting instead of answering.

6. Won’t Provide Suitable References

While many job seekers won’t provide references from their current job as a means of keeping a job search private, applicants that won’t offer other suitable references are a red flag. It could mean that they don’t want you to speak with former colleagues or managers that would reveal their dishonesty, so they try to list other people to prevent that from happening.

Connect With Our Team Today!

Ultimately, all of the signs above can indicate that a candidate is too good to be true. If you want to ensure you’re meeting with high-quality, capable job seekers, Selectek can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our recruitment team and learn more about our services today.