By Hannah Hurst

Imagine you’ve just found the perfect candidate for your vacant role but during the hiring process, you’ve found out that some things they’ve said doesn’t match their resume, what do you do? Do you still hire the person, or do you pass?

All recruiters like to believe that every candidate is as fantastic as they say they are, but a study conducted by Checkster in 2019, revealed that approximately five out of every six applicants either inflate or lie on their CV with the intention of increasing their chance of getting a job offer.

In this article, I’ll be sharing with you what these statistics mean and what you, as an employer, can do to detect dishonesty before you recruit a new employee.

How often do candidates lie during the hiring process and is it legal?

Stretching the truth is often something we all do without thinking about the consequences. What’s concerning is how often this occurs during the hiring process. Checkster also found that over 77 per cent of candidates have lied on either their CV or during an interview. The same data revealed that candidates were most likely to lie about their education, skills, references, criminal record, and achievements to date.

In addition, only one in three recruiters believe that candidates are completely honest during a hiring process.

While lying on a CV isn’t automatically illegal, some employers, such as the Western Australian Government, have introduced financial penalties for lying on a job application. This follows a significant case investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in recent years:

Between 2017 and 2019, Veronica Theriault, a senior public servant in the South Australian Premier’s department, was investigated by ICAC and later charged with deception, dishonestly dealing with documents and abuse of public office. Theriault was dishonest during the application process on multiple fronts:

  • She claimed five years of experience in a similar role;
  • She impersonated her nominated referee during a reference check;
  • She used a fake photograph on her LinkedIn profile; and
  • She provided a forged payslip to negotiate a higher salary.

While an extreme example, this case shows the willingness of even senior-level candidates to mislead recruiters.

Spotting a dishonest candidate

Being able to spot dishonesty throughout the recruitment process is a crucial skill. There are a few ways that you can determine if a candidate is lying to you.

The most obvious indicators of dishonesty range from vague details about employment history to inconsistent information. Your first impression of a candidate is often their CV detailing their professional employment history education, and achievements to date. What is on the candidsate’s CV should match what they share during an interview and if it doesn’t, it’s a clear sign that something isn’t right.

Robust recruitment processes that provide solid foundations for selecting potential candidates are key for identifying any that may not be who they say they are. Conducting background and reference checks can be an incredibly effective tool when you’re going through the important process of gathering and verifying information.

Having more than one staff member involved in the hiring process will also help to mitigate the risk of a dishonest applicant slipping through the cracks.

In the instance that false information isn’t identified until years later, it’s a good idea for employers to have policies in place that clearly outline how to respond to its detection.

For more information on this article or any employee relations matters, please contact HR Assured.

HR Assured clients can contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

If you’re not an HR Assured client and need some advice, we’d be more than happy to support your business. Contact us today to arrange a free, confidential, no-obligation chat.

Hannah Hurst is a Workplace Relations Consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. She regularly provides advice to a wide range of businesses in respect to compliance with workplace laws and has a special interest in the retail industry. Hannah is also a fourth-year law and commerce student at Macquarie University.