Honesty Is The Best Policy

Honesty Is The Best Policy

I’ll be completely honest with you; it’s pretty much a mathematical certainty that you’ve been lied to at work on numerous occasions! This is not limited to your colleagues or clients either; if you work in recruitment then you have more than likely been told a few slippery little ‘porkies’ from your candidates too.


Here are some worrying stats from a recent survey:


38% of candidates admitted that they untruthfully tweaked their CVs in order to be more employable. However, 49% of employers have exposed a candidate who lied on their CV. This means that 11% of candidates actually lied about lying! I’ve gone all cross-eyed…


Truth be told, we all occasionally lie (yes even your dear old sweet Nan), so you can’t really expect people not to over-exaggerate their skills at interview stage.


As an employer how can you separate fact from fiction when making your next hire?


Hone Your Detective Skills


It’s up to you to examine every CV with a critical eye –it’snotnice to look for fault but if you make a bad hire it will be detrimental for you, the candidate and your organisation.


The areas where lies most commonly appear are in employment history and education. So if you have a candidate with a 1st at Oxford in Criminal Law who is applying for a Tele-sales role, then you should be sceptical. There’s always a strong chance they are telling the truth, but you have nothing to lose by ‘having a dig’.


Background Checks


Background checks are absolutely critical considering the high volume of CV fraud amongst job-searchers. They may seem tedious and a little insulting to the individuals who ‘work on instinct.’ But every detail on a CV needs to be held under a microscope, this includes:


  • Dates


  • Schooling


  • Qualifications


  • Employment History


  • Job Functions


If you do decide to take this approach then references are the ideal starting point. You should take these with a grain of salt as people often provide a friends’ number as their reference. You should call the HR department of the company directly, or ask to speak to their old supervisor/line manager. By going to a third party you are far more likely to sieve through all the lies and find the truth.


Social media is a crafty tool and employers are rapidly wising up to its uses as a highly efficient pre-screening tool. In fact, it is so effective that it has been reported that almost 68% of employers decided against hiring a candidate after checking out their online activity.


*During the Interview/Candidate Meeting*




A careful and direct line of questioning about dates, experience and qualifications will go a long way to help you weed out liars.


You should ask specific questions:


  • What role did you play in your team?


  • Why did you choose to study at that particular University?


  • What units did you enjoy studying most?’


  • You get the gist…


Examine Body Language


It’s well-known that people can involuntarily reveal that they are lying with body language. If you work as a CIA operative this is your bread and butter, but for the rest of us there are some basic signs to look out for.


Poor eye contact is probably the most well-known, but fewer hand movements and higher speaking tones are

also good indicators. Liars will also use words such as “I’ or “me” less


frequently. The reasoning behind this is it will psychologically distance them from their lie. You could be unlucky and naturally do all of these things or jest be nervous – so these signs are by no means air-tight.


When you’re taking all of these steps into account, remember to be reasonable. A slight embellishment can be overlooked, as we all do it. However, a seismic exaggeration MUSTN’T be overlooked!


If you do stumble across a few lies there is no sense in embarrassing the candidate, it may be beneficial to inform them that you discovered them though; especially if they were obvious.


If you found this interesting then you may like our blog on Linkedin ‘faux pas’ – some of which a lot of you will see on a daily basis!




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