Too Good to be True? Ways to Spot Lies on a Resume

It’s the workplace version of catfishing. You receive a resume that looks amazing. You schedule an interview, full of optimism and excitement. Then: the letdown. When you finally meet the candidate, you realize the resume was full of lies.  

It can lead to significant losses. On a basic level, you waste valuable interview time uncovering a scam. Beyond that, though, you incur a high opportunity cost. There’s another qualified candidate out there that you didn’t invite to an interview because you gave a liar the opportunity.  

There are ways to avoid this trap. You can create systems within your recruitment process that lets you spot resume lies before you reach a formal interview. Here are three methods you should put in place:  

Use the Smell Test  

When you’re at the supermarket picking out fruit, you can’t always tell if something is a little overripe. However, you should be able to spot the rotten specimens. The same is true about resumes.  

Most of the candidates you meet will have similar certifications and work histories. If you find a significantly better resume than the pack, you might want to give it some extra scrutiny. Remember the old “too good to be true” advice.  

Don’t necessarily throw away those unbelievably stellar candidates. You might get lucky. But flag the points that are difficult to credit and give them some additional probing.  

Schedule a Screening Interview  

Formal interviews involve a significant investment of resources. You gather multiple people together and set aside a sizable chunk of time to get to know the candidate well. Discovering a resume lie at that point would represent a significant waste of effort. It’s good you noticed it, but it would be better to unearth the deception before getting to that stage.  

A screening interview can provide a good intermediate step. Schedule a phone or video conversation with your candidates. Since these will be short, one-on-one discussions, they will involve far less commitment than a formal interview.   

You can use this time to get a general feel for the applicant, as well as follow up on specific points of interest on their resumes. If you spotted any red flags, this provides the perfect opportunity to follow up. A few well-crafted questions should either resolve any discrepancies or make deception painfully obvious.  

Double Check  

Time to break out your research skills. The screening interview lets you play police detective, subtly teasing out your candidate’s story’s details. Now you get to play investigative journalist. Use other sources to check out your applicant’s most suspect claims. Here are a few ways you can check information in a resume:  

Internal Discussions  

Once you find a candidate you’d like to invite to an interview, pass their resume among your colleagues. Let coworkers with specific knowledge of the job and its qualifications peruse the applicant’s work history. They might be better placed to notice if something is off.  


References aren’t likely to bad-mouth a candidate. After all, the applicant is the source of the contact list in the first place. However, if you ask highly specific questions that seem like innocuous fact-finding queries, you can confirm (or deny) particular claims. A lying candidate isn’t likely to clue their references on every aspect of their con, letting you find potential mismatches.  

Online/Social Media  

The amount of data available online makes it possible to piece together timelines. Most people leave a pretty obvious internet trail as they move through life. Run through your candidate’s social media feeds. Compare their online chatter with the timeline and claims they make on their resume.  

Vetting candidates can take significant effort. Why not let someone else do the work for you? Teaming with a strong staffing partner, like LaborMAX, takes the most grueling parts of recruiting off your plate.  

Contact LaborMAX Staffing today to find out more.