How to Check if a Candidate's Lying on Their CV

How to Check if a Candidate’s Lying on Their CV

As we covered in our candidate blog, there are some key details which applicants commonly lie about on their CVs.

In fact, according to YouGov, one in ten Brits said that they’re guilty of embellishing their CVs in some shape or form to boost their appeal to employers.

Some of the most common lies people tell on their CVs include:

  • Education (40%)
  • Length of time in a job/employment gaps (35%)
  • Experience/skills (30%)

While it might seem like a small oversight at first, this sort of activity can come back to bite you in the backside in the long-term.

You see, if you hire the wrong person, not only will they get found out when you call upon them, but you’ll waste a lot of valuable time, resource and money in the process too.

Plus, how do you know whether you can trust them to drive your business forward?

Getting your recruitment process right from the start can make future hires stress-free and seamless.

To help you separate the honest candidates from the ones who are telling porky pies, here are some top tips to make things that little bit easier.

Conduct common sense checks

There are thousands of candidates who exaggerate their experience to make themselves look like the real deal.

To identify a Jay from Inbetweeners, scan their job titles and descriptions over the years to see if there is a natural transition from junior to senior positions/responsibilities (if applicable).

So, if you see an applicant who has gone from being a junior marketer to then suddenly managing and creating lead gen campaigns in their next role, there’s a high probability that they’ve added an unrealistic tint on the truth.

Ask yourself, does the applicant’s accomplishments sound too good to be true at that certain stage in their career?

If the answer is yes, you should either discard the application or ask them during screening interviews.

Pro recruiter top tip

Finding a quality CV from an average one is often long, tiresome and unforgiving.

That’s why it’s essential to take every shortcut possible, without compromising quality.

For instance, you should always look for certain keywords (or buzzwords) by pressing the CTRL and F keys on a regular desktop or laptop, or Command and C on a Mac.

This can help you separate the inexperienced and wrong competitors from the ones that count.

Assessing the creativity and originality of a CV from a visual point of view can also help you spot the ones who have made a real effort.

After all, those who just use a boring template run the risk of their CV from blending in with the rest of the applications.

You can find out more about this by reading our previous blog: ‘5 Shortcuts to Finding a Brilliant CV in 30 seconds’.

Carry out a phone interview

Informal screening sessions via the phone is a wonderful way to raise any initial concerns you may have about an applicant.

When looking through someone’s CV, always remember to write any key notes to help formulate some specific questions during the phone interview.

As we’ve covered previously, phone interviews are a great way of saving you time in the long-run and will give you an initial indicator as to what the candidate is truly like.

On the phone, listen out for any pauses or hesitations when the candidate is answering.

You’ll find that a lot of people find it harder to lie when they’re confronted.

Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool and is recognised as an online CV to many modern-day professionals.

With this in mind, you’d be a fool not to take a look at how your potential candidates present themselves via this social media channel.

You should always double check the CV information on a candidate’s LinkedIn profile as they’re less likely to lie when they know their boss can see this kind of information.

You’ll also be able to see any endorsements and recommendations while you’re there to see whether a candidate is as great as they say they are in their CV.

Utilise references

Don’t be afraid to reach out to candidates’ older references before you’ve made a decision.

This way, you can run certain pieces of information by them to get an honest and impartial opinion on their CV.

Just be sure not to contact their current employer before they’ve handed their notice in, as this could cause a lot of issues.


Before you start carrying out the necessary checks, it’s also worth working with a few people or a recruitment agency to ensure you’re thorough from start to finish.

When you look at multiple CVs, it’s easy to miss glaringly obvious errors and star qualities which are imperative in finding the right candidate.

Getting an extra set of eyes on the recruitment project will make the whole process quicker and more effective.

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