How to Spot Fake Information on a Resume

According to HireRight’s 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark Report, 87% of the 3,467 human resource professionals surveyed believe that more than 20% of candidates misrepresent themselves on their resumes.

When this misrepresentation is left unchecked, it often leads to mis-hires. And we know that the cost of bad hires is astronomical. We’re not talking about just a few hundred dollars. Mis-hires can make businesses lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To avoid such huge losses, it is critical for HR personnel to thoroughly check candidate data during the hiring process.

In this article, we will list some of the ways to spot fake information on a candidate’s resume or application form.

7 Ways to Spot Fake Information on a Resume


1. Look for red flags and major inconsistencies.


Some candidates inflate their credentials and pad their work experiences to match the job description of the position they are applying for. When hired based on these false credentials, a mismatch between skills and job responsibilities occur. Subsequently, this can result in high employee turnover.

You can prevent this from happening by watching out for red flags and inconsistent information in their resumes. These red flags include discrepancies in dates, unclear credentials, huge career leaps, and vague job descriptions.

Date Discrepancies

Start and end dates that are listed year-to-year can be a ruse to hide gaps in employment. If a candidate does not specify the months in their work history, validate the entry and exit dates of their most recent employment.

Unclear Credentials

Lack of degree specification may mean that the candidate has not earned a degree at all. When a candidate merely writes “bachelor’s degree” or “master’s degree” and no specific degree after them, ask for more precise information. Better yet, request for actual documents such as transcripts.

Huge Career Leaps

A big jump in position is not necessarily impossible, but this may also indicate overinflated titles. If a candidate has consecutive employments that show a leap from being an office clerk to a department manager, it is best to verify the information with the previous employers.

Vague Job Descriptions

Job descriptions that are inconsistent with job titles often indicate discrepancies. A candidate may have merely copied the information from a template. Or another possibility may be that the candidate is fabricating responsibilities to appear qualified for the position being filled.

These are the most common red flags you should watch out for during your screening process. Make sure that you craft strategies in spotting these inconsistencies during your hiring planning.


2. Ask for references.


Ask for references and check on them. Determine if the references are reliable individuals known and trusted in the industry. Verify the candidate’s character and credentials by calling those on the list.

Calling people who can vouch for a candidate’s competence, professionalism, and credibility is one way to find out how they interact with other people at work. Performance feedback from a former supervisor also reveals whether the candidate was honest with the accomplishments listed in their resume.

However, there is also a possibility that a candidate will supply fraudulent references. So, it’s also wise to conduct a backdoor reference check.

Contact previous colleagues not listed as references, and get candid feedback about the candidate’s work performance, attitude, and behavior. Make sure to get the candidate’s consent before doing so.


3. Conduct a background check.


Verify the educational background, professional certifications, job titles, and work responsibilities. This can be done by confirming with universities, previous employers, and colleagues.

Diplomas and transcripts can be easily faked nowadays. So if a candidate claims to have graduated from an Ivy League school, call the school directly to validate the degree they earned. This is the best and most fool-proof way to check a candidate’s educational attainment.

It’s also essential to contact former employers and co-workers to know if the candidate was forthright with job titles and responsibilities. Moreover, you can get insight on their performance when team collaboration is required.


4. Leverage social media.


While the educational background and work experiences can be validated by calling various institutions, verifying volunteer work and other such experiences can’t be done the same way. For these, you must leverage social media.

Nowadays, everyone has several social media accounts. It is quite easy to search for a candidate’s account on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and other such sites. You can then compare information posted on these sites with the information written on a candidate’s resumes.

Moreover, social media profiles can give you a preview of a candidate’s career development and personal character. You can confirm if they are indeed as socially aware as they indicated in their resume by checking their status posts.

Often, social media accounts can also confirm volunteer activities and work experiences. They also give you a glimpse of a candidate’s personality and enable you to foresee if they will contribute to happiness at work or just create a toxic work culture.


5. Refer to information provided in the resume during the interview.


Clarify ambiguities in the resume during a face-to-face interview. Ask specific questions such as unique experiences in the university they graduated from or notable events in their previous company. Check if their reply matches or supports the information they provided in their resume.

Make sure to observe body language during the interview. The tone of voice and depth of response can gauge truthfulness about their experiences and references. Hesitation in the voice and inability to recall key details are indications of fabricated data information.


6. Use recruiting software with customizable features.


Most businesses now use advanced recruiting software to screen candidates, schedule interviews, and check references. Some of these Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) include features that check for plagiarism or inconsistencies in dates.

Customize the settings of your ATS so it can filter and flag inconsistent data, gaps in employment, mismatch in the resume and cover letter, and even grammar lapses.


7. Provide a skills test.


Some candidates may claim to have the skills listed in the job description to increase their chances of getting hired. You can prevent deceiving resumes from moving forward in the hiring process by requiring candidates to take skills tests.

Tests and quizzes can be done online even before candidates submit their application. These are effective in evaluating candidates for specific skills and knowledge and for eliminating those who do not have the skills required for the position.

Doing this not only saves you time but also money. It ensures that only those who are truly qualified move on to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Practice Due Diligence in Screening Resumes

As a hiring manager, it’s your direct responsibility to verify the data provided by candidates in their resumes. Maintain objectivity when checking the veracity of every candidate information.

Understand that mistakes do happen. Discrepancies in a resume do not necessarily mean that an applicant intentionally faked information. So, give candidates an opportunity to explain ambiguities in their resumes.

Sound decision-making is critical in determining whether misrepresentations are grave falsifications, minor overstatements, or honest mistakes.

As you become more thorough in screening resumes and spotting fake information, you minimize the risk of mis-hiring and potential business losses.