Lying on a Resume: 5 Interview Questions to Validate Resume Claims

Posted by Hiregy Staff on Mar 27, 2014 8:24:00 AM

5 Questions for Verifying a Job Candidate’s Resume DetailsThis past week, the University of South Florida rescinded a job offer to a candidate for their coveted men's basketball coach position because he apparently lied on his resume about earning a degree at the University of Kentucky.   Unfortunately, lying on a resume is not uncommon. In today's fast paced and competitive market, lying on a resume may seem like the only way to get a face-to-face interview. Many candidates figure if they can just get a face-to-face interview, they can wow the company, and those little lies won't really matter.   But they do as Steve Masiello learned the hard way from USF.

There have been several other instances of high-profile resume fibbers in recent history. For example, Ronald Zarrella landed a job as CEO of Bausch and Lomb, by claiming to hold a Masters degree from NYU. Zarrella started the program but never graduated. He forfeited a bonus, but managed to keep his job. Celebrity chef, Robert Irvine, fibbed his way into a TV show, by claiming to have made Princess Diana's wedding cake. He also claimed to have cooked at The White House. Neither turned out to be true. Marilee Jones held the position of Dean of Admissions at MIT for 28 years, before it was revealed she didn't even hold a Bachelors degree. Jones had claimed to have both a Bachelors and Masters degree on her resume.

Some of these famous fibbers bounced back, somewhat, but it just goes to show you that you can not always believe what is on a resume. If you have the job of hiring people based on their credentials you have a tough job ahead of you, but there are a few ways to verify what your candidate claims with a few simple questions.

1. Ask for Specific References to Validate Claims on their Resume

Many candidates try to pass through the reference section of their resume by putting friends names, or former coworkers as references. They will even try to pass them off as bosses or superiors. To make sure the information you are seeing is correct, be specific and let them know you’d like to speak to former supervisors who can tell you more about their knowledge, skills, and behaviors in certain roles. Sometimes just asking them for references related to certain items on their resume will make them nervous, which will tell you what you need to know.

2. Test Their Qualifications With a Troubleshooting Question

Many a candidate will fib about their qualifications and expertise. If you are looking to hire a candidate with Photoshop experience, for example, ask a question that only an expert users would know. Many people will fudge their qualifications simply to look more well-rounded. Make sure to ask questions that test the potential employee against the qualification information they provided. If an employee has the knowledge and skills they claim, these questions should be easy to answer.

3. Ask Whether or Not Proof Can be Made Available

Sometimes the easiest way to weed out a liar is to simply ask for proof. If you have reason to doubt their collegiate experience, ask whether or not they can provide proof of graduation. A copy of their degree, or a transcript will serve the purpose. Individuals who are telling the truth should have no problem procuring this information for you.

4. Ask Them to Submit to a Background Check

Potential employees may lie because they are worried the information will take them out of the running for a job. You, however, as an employer, have a right to ask for information to be verified. During the interview phase, ask an employee whether they would be willing to submit to a background check. In order to run a background check you must inform the employee in writing, and have their expressed written consent to perform the check. These checks are covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. A potential employee who refuses the check may be hiding something. If you are simply looking for verification of information provided an approved background check is a solid means of getting that information.

5. Ask Probing Questions

If you are unsure if a candidate is being truthful about the length of their previous employment ask probing questions. For example, if an individual claims to have been a real estate agent during the bursting of the housing bubble, ask questions about how they dealt with the burst, and what techniques they used to keep their sales up. Probing questions about their educational background can also uncover fibs and half-truths rather easily.  

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