You’re interviewing a potential new hire that you’re excited about. Their resume was truly impressive and they seem like exactly the right person for the role.
But something doesn’t seem quite right. Perhaps one of their answers is a little odd, or things don’t seem to add up. Maybe they’re being vague about what should be straightforward details.
Here are seven signs that your potential hire is lying to you.
1. Dates of Education or Employment Don’t Add Up or Are Vague
Let’s say your potential hire claims in their cover letter to have 5 years of full-time experience … but they only graduated from college 3 years ago. Or maybe they’ve listed a company that they worked for during a span like “2017 – 2018” without giving more precise dates.
While this could be carelessness, it can also be a lie – or at least an attempt to hide the truth. There’s a big difference between working from Jan 2017 – Dec 2018 (twenty-four months) and working from Dec 2017 to Jan 2018 (one month, or maybe even less).
2. They’ve Listed Short Projects, Freelancing, or Volunteer Work
If someone went through a period of unemployment, they may try to hide it on their resume by stating that they were working on short projects, they were freelancing, or they were volunteering. None of those are bad – but an attempt to cover up a period of unemployment could be.
It’s worth digging into gaps like this, perhaps contacting the volunteer organization to find out more about the role. Again, there’s a big difference between someone volunteering for an hour a week vs forty hours a week.
3. Key Information is Missing from Their Resume
If someone’s missed out key details from their resume, that may be a sign that they have something to hide. For example, they might state that they have a degree, but not tell you whether it’s an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree or what university it was from.
This can also happen with specific qualifications. Perhaps your potential hire states that they have a “professional accounting qualification” and you assume they passed the CPA exam, but they actually passed the EA exam. As AIS-CPA explains, “The Enrolled Agent exam consists of three separate tests and is generally considered less difficult than the CPA exam.”
4. They Claim Skills Without Details to Back Those Up
Perhaps a candidate says they’re skilled at everything you’ve asked for in your job ad. That sounds great – except their education and work experience has no real indication where they might have developed some of those skills.
As many as 62% of candidates claim skills they don’t really have. If you suspect that a candidate has invented or embellished a skill, ask probing questions at the interview, or even test out that skill. For instance, if they claim to be fluent in Spanish, you might ask to conduct part of the interview in Spanish.
5. Their References Don’t Seem Right
Perhaps a candidate has listed a reference that looks fine, like their previous line manager. But they’ve told you to only contact them by a personal mobile number – or they’ve given a Gmail address or similar. This could mean that the reference is fake: the candidate has a friend ready to take your call and pretend to be the line manager.
If you’re concerned about this, simply contact the reference through the official phone number on the company’s website.
6. They Don’t Understand Common Industry Terms or References
Let’s say your potential hire claims to have extensive experience with digital marketing. If they seem confused by terms like “click-through rate” or “keyword” then that’s a very worrying sign! They may have no real experience at all, apart from personal social media accounts.
Probe deeper, ask more questions, and even consider asking them outright to be honest with you about how much experience they’ve really had with this area.
7. Their Social Media Accounts Don’t Match With Their Resume
Take a look at the employee’s profile on LinkedIn, if they have one. Does their resume seem to fit with this? Are the dates of employment the same, for instance? A candidate may lie or exaggerate on their resume but fail to update their LinkedIn profile.
If the employee isn’t on LinkedIn, see whether they have any other social media accounts or even a personal blog or website. They may have listed details about their career history or education here.
Hiring the wrong candidate can be hugely detrimental to your company. You don’t want to risk hiring someone who has lied or misled you about their skills and experience … so make sure you watch out for all the above signs that your potential hire is lying to you.