Kristina FinsethApril 13, 2017
Topics: High-Volume Hiring

Candidate Lies on Resume and Gets Hired. Who's At Fault?

Envision this scenario: You are on the hunt for a Software Developer. You find a candidate that looks like an amazing fit on paper. She has all the technical qualifications based on the job description. You set up a phone conversation, and you hit it off. She has the personality, drive, and ambition to make an excellent culture add to the existing development team.

Then the candidate is invited in for a technical interview, and she fails – miserably. Why? She listed certain technical skills and proficiencies on her resume, and she was tested on them. Her skills and testing results just weren’t adding up. However, the technical testing was in place to prevent making a bad hire.

Unfortunately, bad hires happen all the time, and not all companies have the right systems in place to prevent this from happening. Some candidates exaggerate on their resumes, and some companies fail to do the proper skill and credential vetting in order to ensure the new hire will actually be able to perform their job.

So the real question becomes: Who’s really at fault for hiring a candidate who exaggerated or lied on their resume? Arguably, both the candidate and the company are at fault. However, there’s a lot of gray area and it’s definitely circumstantial.

On one hand, it’s the company’s fault. In recent news, a Kansas student newspaper was preparing to do a spotlight article on their newly hired principal. During their interviews and fact checking, they found some pretty hefty inconsistencies in the background and credentials of the principal, who has since resigned as a result.

Not every company has the budget to invest in the proper vetting of a candidate’s skills, education, and credentials. With anywhere from 20 percent to over 50 percent of job applicants lying to embellish their credentials on a resume, cover letter, or job application – it’s important to invest in proper background checking.

Here are some tips for companies to minimize hiring the wrong person for the job:

  • Don’t take things at face value. Dig deeper, and ask those difficult questions to really get granular on the experience, skills, and aspects of the candidate that matter in making your decision.
  • Believe it or not, you should Google your candidate. I’ve found some pretty interesting information out on candidates in the past by doing this, including anything from suspended credentials to news of work scandals.
  • Check your candidate’s background and credentials. It’s worth the investment, and fact checking has become super important. This includes credentials, education, and work history.
  • Don’t rely only on the references your candidate provides you. Call previous direct supervisors based on their stated work history.

On the other hand, the candidate is at fault. A candidate that exaggerates or lies on their resume, job application or cover letter has full responsibility for that action. Whether or not a company uncovers the truth, a lie is a lie.

As a recruiter, it’s important to ensure you are doing the proper fact checking. If it comes up in the conversation with a candidate, be sure to counsel, caution, and tell them:

  • Anything you put on your resume is subject to fact checking and testing.
  • If it’s found that you don’t possess the skills, experience, or credentials you’ve stated on your resume – you are going to end up over-promising and under-delivering. That’s an excellent way to get booted out of the company quickly.
  • You may just cheat yourself out of an ideal opportunity. The company may be willing to overlook a particular skill, credential or educational requirement for the “right” candidate. However, if your integrity is in question, they are less likely to look over it.


What do you think? Is it the company’s fault if a candidate lies on their resume and gets hired? Or, is it the candidate’s fault for lying?

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