Top Five Candidate Lies

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Job applicant resume lies

Pre-employment screening becomes more proficient every year, and yet most applicants fudge, dissemble and outright lie in new and unique ways on their resumes. Amazingly, many job applicants just don’t understand the seriousness of lying or attempting to hide information from prospective employers. Here are five of the most unbelievable lies that we have come across.

1. Falsifying the Degree or Credential Earned
With roughly a 20 percent discrepancy rate in information provided by candidates regarding their education qualifications it’s important that companies understand the variety of ways applicants lie to claim unearned degrees. In many cases, candidates may forge diplomas, purchase a degree from a diploma mill, lie about their major or may have attended classes but never graduated.

Other times, applicants will fake their educational qualifications by trying to pass off degrees earned by family members as their own. Such is the case with an applicant who submitted “proof” of his education by producing a valid degree in his name. However a problem arose as the date on the degree was only five years after the applicant was born. The candidate fessed up—the diploma belonged to his father, whom he was named after!

2. Inflating Salary History or Title Held
It’s no surprise that some candidates who are not qualified for a position may lie about titles held to claim expertise and experience they do not have, and they inflate their previous salaries to negotiate better packages than they may be able to obtain otherwise.

In one case, a candidate claiming to have spearheaded many significant merger and acquisition deals at a prior employer, applied for a top finance job at a Wall Street brokerage that was opening an office in Japan. As it turned out, his background check confirmed that he had indeed been highly involved with each of the noted deals—as the staff interpreter!

3. Concealing a Criminal Record
The most common way candidates with a criminal background attempt to avoid detection, is by changing details such as their date of birth or spelling of their name. It’s important that employers conduct very thorough criminal searches, going beyond the basic data provided, in order to confirm the results and avoid hiring a potentially dangerous individual.

For example, a search run on Frank T. Booker (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent), DOB 8/6/72, came back clean, but an additional search of F Booker resulted in a found record for a Fred T. Booker, DOB 8/26/72, for six DUIs and two felonies.

4. Exaggerating Dates of Past Employment
It’s extremely common for applicants to lie about their dates of employment, and in fact, some studies show as many as 35 percent of all resumes include discrepancies. Candidates often attempt to stretch the truth on dates to cover gaps in employment they may not want to explain.

For example, one candidate extended his end date at his previous company by six months in order to hide the fact that he spent those six months serving a jail sentence!

5. Hiding a Drug Habit
About half of Americans admit to having used an illegal drug in their lifetime, so conducting a proper drug test should be a standard step in any screening program. There are numerous ways drug users attempt to beat the drug test, and some go to great lengths. In fact, a recent determined applicant decided to shave his entire body just a few hours before showing up for his scheduled hair sample drug test.

A more common way for drug users to avoid detection is by adulterating their urine samples through dilution, addition of other substances, or substitution of urine. What scheming applicants don’t realize is that today’s drug tests can identify these attempts and are more accurate than ever before in determining positive and negative results despite tricks and excuses.

Lying on job applications, if not downright fraud, at the very least provides reason to question an applicant’s character. With professional background screening best practices in place, employers can make the right hiring decision the first time.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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