How to tell if a candidate is lying to you

Have you ever been in an interview, and half way through, you get a strong gut reaction that something is not right? Your candidate went to a great school, seems to have an excellent job history and the skills are a perfect fit for your open position. However, when you meet in person, the candidate is hazy on details of the job and the dates are just off enough to make you take note. The stark reality is, your candidate could very well be lying or embellishing their experience. In a survey by Career Builders, they found that 58% of employers caught a lie on a resume.

To take it a step further, Career Builders found these out to be the most common lies on a resume:

  • 57% – Embellished their skill set
  • 55% – Embellished responsibilities
  • 42% – Dates of employment
  • 34% – Job title


Most shockingly, the industry that is most likely to catch resume lies is financial services with a whopping 73%. There is always a constant struggle to find quality talent. How do you detect that a candidate is lying before you hand them a job offer?


Here are three tips to help determine if a candidate is lying to you:


  1. One of the fastest ways to detect if someone is potentially fibbing about any part of their resume is to pay attention to how much they are reading directly off their resume. If someone has their resume in front of them the whole time and is looking at it to answer your questions, this is a huge red flag. This is especially true for the candidates most recent job, their dates, title, and responsibilities should be easy to recall and discuss without looking down at their resume. This is also why it is so important to interview someone in person or over video conference, so you can better read their body language and intentions.


  1. If a candidate only makes reference to one job during the entire interview, there is a chance that they embellished their responsibilities or experience on their resume. Many people feel that having one job in the function is not enough, so they create an additional job or two to make their resume’s more compelling. Watch for a candidate constantly redirecting when you ask them about their previous jobs to make sure they have ALL the experience they are claiming to have on their resume.


  1. Have a feeling your candidate is fudging the truth but can’t quite put your finger on it? Gut check yourself by running a background check and calling each previous employer directly to ensure their listed references really are their past managers. One of my fail safes for making sure a candidate has had the experience they claim is to not only speak with their direct manager, but to call the department and talk to different managers or supervisors. This will provide additional background information and reveal whether the candidate really performed the job functions stated on their resume.


For a short tutorial on how basic body language relates to lying click here.

Have you ever noticed these reactions when speaking with someone?