Recruiters - Are your candidates telling the truth?

Recruiters – Are your candidates telling the truth?

Identifying the right candidate for a position is a tricky task for any recruiter. Job seekers have, on occasion, been known to get a little creative on their CV and exaggerate their skills so they stand out from the crowd. However, some applicants often take this one step too far by completely lying about aspects of their professional life.

A recent survey has shown that seven out of 10 employers have reported finding a lie on a CV, a statistic not completely unexpected with 38% of British people admitting to falsifying the document.

So, with many sections available to disguise incorrect facts, here are some of the common places that candidates attempt to pull the wool over recruiter’s eyes.

Skills and Experience

During the screening process for any position, you’ll undoubtedly sift through countless lists of niche skills and varying levels of previous experience. Studies have shown that this area the most common part of a CV where a candidate will falsify information.

Katie Espinoza, Growth and Partnership Manager at Rebrandly, identifies how previous candidates she has interviewed hyperbolised their involvement in projects.

“Candidates tend to exaggerate their experience in ways that are very easy to detect. For example, they say they were instrumental in delivering a critical project, but when asked very pointed questions about that project they fumble over the answer. I’ve had candidates state expertise in programming languages, but then say they’ve never used that language in work or in projects – again very obviously false. That’s why it’s critical to thoroughly read CVs and ask descriptive questions.”

Dates of Employment

When examining a CV, it’s plausible that, as a recruiter, you may come across gaps in employment history. Most applicants will be happy to provide an explanation when asked, however, in some cases, candidates choose to avoid an explanation completely, fabricate a reason for the inconsistency, or alter the information already on their CV to hide the gap.

CEO of The Hire Talent, Fletcher Wimbush, tells his experience of candidates embellishing facts on their CV but also emphasises it isn’t always the fault of the job seeker that these facts go unnoticed.

“I’ve found that many candidates lie or what might better be described as embellish their dates of employment. Many use deceptive practices in terms of not putting months and years of beginning and end dates, many stretch the truth on these dates. Equally as often, they omit jobs or cover them up by extending dates of other employment.

“It’s not that candidates lie, it’s that they embellish their experiences and an equally large problem is recruiters and hiring managers don’t bother to investigate the level or the relevance of experiences listed.

“A great example is the candidate lists on their skills and experience section of their resume ‘QuickBooks experience’. A recruiter will then come to find out the extent of that experience is a class they took five years ago. They aren’t lying, the interviewer never bothered to clarify the relevance and extent of that experience.”


Whether they are educational or professional, qualifications are an aspect of a CV that candidates like to showcase. But, as a recruiter, this is yet another area you should be wary of pitfalls when it comes to candidates misstating the truth. According to the UK Higher Education Degree Check Survey, 40% of UK graduates falsify their degree results, with 11% of people making up a degree qualification completely.

When sifting through CV’s, this is the primary area that Lynda Spiegel of Rising Star Resumes has found the most common deception from candidates.

“The most frequent lies I’ve seen are in the one area that is easiest to catch them on – education. I’ve read resumes where the candidate claims to have earned a degree when, in reality, they only took a few courses, while others claim to have attended colleges that never heard of them!”


Obtaining a reference is often the final part of the recruitment process, and most candidates provide a former employer, university lecturer, or character reference.

However, one in five small businesses have identified this as another area where candidates attempt to deceive by listing incorrect or unsuitable information. Applicants will provide a lower level colleague, rather than a former boss, or in extreme cases, they will completely make up an individual and falsely pose as them.

With references being such a crucial part of the recruitment process, James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO of FRG Technology Consulting, gives added emphasis to their importance.

As a recruitment agency, our aim is to provide the best service possible for our clients.  For consultants, it’s often challenging to read a candidate effectively from only two pieces of paper, so they understand the importance of obtaining a strong reference from a credible source within a business. They  have a duty of care to ensure references are always followed up on and must do their due diligence when contacting a business, ensuring they speak to people in senior management positions or above to ensure the information given on a CV is corroborated correctly.

With this added information, recruiters may find it easier to identify where candidates are being untruthful on their CV, as this information could be the difference when selecting the right individual for the role.

Sarah Shannon

Sarah Shannon is a writer based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. She has a passion for all things tech, sport and gaming.

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