Candidate Dishonesty in Resumes and Interviews: The Findings

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.

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