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Are Your Applicants Being Truthful?
By Sonya Buck, Australia

If you are anything like me, you'd like to think that most people are upfront and honest.

When you are recruiting a new employee, sometimes (but not often) you may need to 'keep on your toes' as not all candidates may be entirely truthful.

When we discuss recruitment and untruthfulness, we don't really mean slight exaggeration. Of course, all candidates will be wanting to show themselves in the best light. Lies are more serious like a fictitious previous role or employer and bogus qualification.

What can you do to ensure an applicant is being truthful?

Ensuring candidates are providing genuine information starts early in the recruitment process and applications should be reviewed thoroughly.

During the interview


  • If you feel things just don't add up, question and probe deeper in a respectful way. This includes querying why candidates have left their previous role should their reason just not sound right.

  • If you are concerned about a role they say they have held, ask the candidate to walk you through a day in that role and how they handled certain situations.

  • If you think an applicant is overstating their previous salary, check salary websites and benchmark similar roles.

  • Ask for clarification eg. What does working 2015 to 2016 for a particular employer really mean? It could be December 2015 to January 2016, two years or something else.

  • Conduct tests for proficiency. For example, if you need someone with strong literacy skills, after the interview ask them to write down a comprehensive answer to a question or discuss a topic. You would be surprised how many resumes or applications have been written by people other than the applicant.


After the interview


  • If a candidate is shortlisted, check and verify everything, including employers, qualifications and credentials.

  • Check referees and their contact details on their company website or on LinkedIn before you call. Checking referees will ensure you aren't talking to someone's flatmate on the other end of the phone.

  • Check Social Media and LinkedIn.


Recruiting, hiring and training a new employee can be time-consuming, so getting it right is vital, but remember the majority of applicants are truthful. Just don't get caught by the occasional candidate who is trying to 'pull the wool over your eyes'.