4 Ways to Tell If Job Candidates Are Telling the Truth

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Even though the interview process is designed to vet job candidates and find out what they can really do for a company, there are still ways for fibs or little exaggerations to get through. The question is, how do you know if a job seeker is telling you the truth without resorting to over-the-top interrogation techniques?

In the 2015 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation survey of over 2,000 adults, 31 percent of respondents admitted to inflating their skills on Twitter, and 27 percent fabricated references on Facebook. That’s news no employer wants to hear.

If you want to find the best person for the job, you have to pay attention to how and what a candidate is telling you. Here are four ways to ensure a job candidate is telling you the truth:

1. Spend more time reading resumes.

We all know hiring managers are busy and that they have to sift through hundreds of resumes for just one open position. Still, an August 2015 CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,500 HR and hiring managers found that seven out of 10 spend less than five minutes looking at a resume.

Related: This Recruiting Hack Will Save You Time and Lead to Better Interviews

Given the length of a typical resume, it definitely shouldn’t take more time than that to read the words on the page. However, more time and attention needs to be given on processing what the information actually means.

There’s a tendency to use vague buzzwords in a resume in order to establish credibility, but knowing industry vocabulary isn’t enough. Look carefully at how candidates use jargon and buzzwords, and decide if it actually makes a clear point.

If a candidate says he “liaised with potential clients to foster new sales relationships,” it really means nothing. However, if he says he “developed new sales pitches that brought in 100 new clients,” he’s got the evidence to back up the claim.

To double check the information that’s been given to you in a resume, cater your interview questions to the experience and skills each job candidate has. Ask them for stories of how they used or developed these skills to get a better idea of what their proficiency really is.

2. Check out social media.

Thirty-five percent of the 2,175 HR and hiring managers surveyed in a May 2015 CareerBuilder survey said they had sent friend requests to or followed job candidates. If it’s already been established that job seekers can -- and do -- lie on social media, why would this be a good way to check out a potential employee?

The great thing about social networks is that they allow you to dig deeper. You can reach out to people who are professionally connected to job candidates, and ask them to verify information or give their opinions of a job seeker’s work ethics.

Related: 4 Tips to Hiring The Right Candidate

Also take a look at the types of posts a candidate is making, not to look for inappropriate behavior, but to see their involvement in the industry. If a candidate claims to have 10 years of marketing experience, but follows no one else in the marketing world or never shares marketing related posts on Facebook, chances are she’s not being truthful.

3. Ask specific questions.

During an interview, hiring managers tend to ask broad, open-ended questions to get more than just a yes or no response. Starting out with “tell me about yourself” is fine, but there needs to be more specific follow-ups.

Ask for stories and examples about a candidate’s experience and skill levels, and listen for specific answers. The more details a job candidate gives you in their responses, the less likely it is that they’re exaggerating. Also, pay attention to whether candidates are just rehashing their resumes to you word for word. If a response sounds memorized or overly rehearsed, take it with a grain of salt.

4. Ask if they’re telling the truth.

Most of the time when a job candidate is being dishonest, it’s only slight exaggerations. No one but a real brain surgeon is going to walk into a job interview and claim to be one. It’s more likely that a candidate rounded up their years of experience to five when it was really four years and three months.

So if after interviewing a great candidate you still suspect they’ve been less than 100 percent honest, ask them. Let them know that you plan to check out their resumes and references and would like to know if there’s anything that won’t line up. Giving candidates the chance to come clean gets you the real story and shows you that when it comes down to it, you can count on them to be truthful.

Related: 5 Ways to Catch Job Candidates in a Lie Before You Hire Them