Candidate Dishonesty in Resumes and Interviews: The Research

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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.

For Example:

  • 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
  • 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.

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