PrincePerelson & Associates

How to Spot a Fake Job Candidate

It is human nature to want others to see the best in us. We dress in clothes that are flattering and expensive. We use social media to showcase our accomplishments. We tell stories about our favorite memories. Most importantly, we keep our missteps to ourselves.

Controlling our outward appearance is woven into the fabric of our society. Our concern with the way others perceive us is especially significant when we need someone to approve of us, as in a job interview. In this situation, the interview’s outcome depends on what the recruiter across the table believes about us. This heightened desire to impress leads many applicants to exaggerate and even lie about themselves, their experience, and their education to win the position.

However, what may seem an insignificant change on a resumé can be a key determining factor in deciding who receives the offer and whether or not they can effectively fill that role. Companies who fall victim to the fraudulent claims of job candidates lose both time and money invested in pursuing the wrong people and often must perform another search to identify a suitable replacement. Spotting the fake before hiring an unqualified candidate is a vital recruiting skill to develop.

Spotting the Fake

It is essential to realize that it is a matter of “when,” not “if,” you will run across false information when recruiting. Seasoned employment recruiters are familiar with the common ploys applicants use to artificially inflate their resumé or improve their chances of landing a job. Here are a few red flags we look for when reviewing resumés and vetting candidates for our clients.

1. Missing Information – Legitimate applicants will be sure to include all their personal information on their resumé and application to make contacting them for follow-up interviews easy. Candidates who leave off their address, phone number, or email address may be trying to pretend to be something they are not. Before proceeding with any candidate, verify their personal and contact information.

2. Too Good – While you hope to find a candidate who meets all the qualifications for the position, it is unlikely that you will find someone who matches the job description to a “T.” Candidates who have too many in-demand skills listed on their resumé may be too good to be true. You may need to ask the candidate for additional verification of their skills.

3. Inconsistencies – Reporting false information on a resumé consistent with the existing educational and professional history is challenging. Many lies become evident if you examine the facts closely. Look for gaps or overlaps in employment or inconsistent job titles and responsibilities.

4. No Online Footprint – Whether we like it or not, a quick Google search will reveal information about most of us. Most professionals have a social media profile or a LinkedIn account you can find easily. If they don’t exist online or if you spot a profile that tells a different story from their application, they might be stringing you along.

Preventative Measures

While these signs of fraud may be easy to spot, other candidates may engage in fraudulent methods that are challenging to detect. In 2015, Business Insider reported on a company actively helping candidates fake their credentials to get hired. How can you protect your company from these more complex scams? The best way to thwart fraud is to develop a standard hiring process that incorporates rules and checks to keep applicants honest.

1. Use Technology Sparingly and Wisely

In a world full of technological advancements that make our lives easier, relying on them for interviews and other interactions with candidates can be tempting. However, in-person meetings are still the gold standard for getting to know people. An in-person interview allows you to read the candidate’s body language better and get a feel for their personality. It also eliminates opportunities to cheat by having others feed them the answers to questions. What you see is what you get.

Video interviews can be effective as well if specific rules are followed.

  • Interviews should only be conducted when the signal is good. Dishonest candidates can leverage bad reception to hide their reliance on another person to answer questions. If the signal on the call is bad, ask to reschedule the interview. A qualified candidate should not have a problem interviewing another day.
  • Ask the interviewee to refrain from using headphones during the interview so that you know they are not communicating with anyone else.
  • Make sure you can see the candidate’s face at all times. The best way to hide what is going on in the room around them is to cover their face.

2. Check Identification

The best way to verify a person’s identity is to ask to see their driver’s license or another form of government-issued ID. You may want to check their identification both at the interview and again when they show up to work. The person who interviewed for the job should be the person that shows up to work each day. This quick check prevents imposters from sneaking in on the accomplishments of others.

3. Background Checks

Background checks are routine for many jobs. They vary in complexity depending on the needs of the employer and the qualifications for the job. Most background checks verify past employment and check for any criminal activity.

While they are a great hiring tool, a background check can take time to complete, drawing out the hiring process. It is worth noting that in an effort to be thorough, you could lose the best candidate to another company. Weigh the benefits of performing a background check on your candidates. If you can partner with a company that can promise quick and accurate results to keep your recruitment on track and on schedule.

4. Use a Firm

Partnering with a Utah County recruiting firm can give you the best chance of avoiding fraudulent applicants. Their expert recruiters have the experience to know what fraud looks like and the tools to spot more covert attempts to deceive. After vetting the best candidates for your position, they can deliver you a list of qualified applicants who can do the job they applied for and help your company grow and excel.

Fraud is not new to job recruiters. There have always been applicants willing to try to embellish or lie their way into a job. However, with the right tools, you can avoid the cost of falling victim to their deception. If you need help, recruitment firms across Utah are ready and able to help you navigate these and other challenges to find the best candidate for your organization.