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How To Tell If Someone’s Lying On Their CV

By Lauren @BubbleJobs

Lying on CVs is more common than ever, with fraud prevention officers having to issue warnings to every university up and down the country saying students could find themselves in jail for lying on their CVs.

But when you’re assessing candidates’ CVs, how can you spot what’s true and what’s embellished? Well, it’s not that simple to say the least!

However, to give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a few things to look out for to help you sort through those CVs that are filled with rubbish so you can find the ones that are telling the truth.

1) No Written Evidence

This only really applies to their qualifications or education, but it’s definitely a good idea to ask a candidate for written evidence to back up their qualification claims, especially if you have some doubts about their credibility.

When a candidate passes any sort of exam or course, they’ll normally be presented with a certificate, and if that gets lost, they can request a replacement fairly easily from the examining body in charge of the qualification, so there’s no excuse for having no evidence.

So, if a candidate refuses to come up with the goods when you start requesting written evidence, this is when the warning bells should start to ring!

2) Can’t Back Up Claims

If, for example, a candidate has claimed to have increased sales in their previous job in their CV, but can’t back this up with numbers or an explanation of how they increased the sales, this should be a cause for concern.

A CV should be an introduction into a candidate’s work history and skill set, and they should definitely be able to back up any claims when prompted in an interview.

While the candidate is bound to be nervous and forget some things in the interview, if they can’t answer simple questions about their own work history – that’s when you need to start worrying.

3) Can’t Answer Competency Questions

If the candidate claims to have a particular skill set or a certain type of experience, put this to the test by asking a series of competency-based questions.

This will help you to really understand their skills and their ability to do what the job will potentially require of them if they’re successful.

But not just that, if they’re unable to give you examples of times where they’ve had to use the skills they listed on their CV, then it’s pretty clear that there’s been some slight embellishment on their part.

4) Unexplainable Gaps In Work History

While not a lie per sé, having gaps in employment on a CV with no explanation as to what they’ve been up to in that time off can be cause for concern.

You should give the candidate a chance to explain these gaps in an interview, or even in a quick phone call, but if they don’t give a reasonable explanation, it means they’re trying to hide something from you – not a great start from a potential employee, especially if they’re trying to cover up being fired!

5) References Don’t Match Up

Finally, the most obvious and foolproof way of checking if someone has lied on their CV is to check their references.

If they said on their CV that they worked at a certain place for 12 months, but when you checked this with the company in question, it turns out they left after 3 months, it’s fair to say that their CV is pretty unreliable – which means that they’re probably not that reliable themselves!

So there we go, a few things that are worth looking out for if you think someone might have lied on their CV!

Do you think these tips are useful, or have you got any words of wisdom on this topic?

Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @BubbleJobs! 🙂


  1. Mavi Gozler

    I recently left out a truth (lied?) on a resume/CV. I omitted the fact I had a PhD for basically an underling job (the only jobs seemingly out there for someone in my situation) and left in the fact I had a B.S. which was just right for the job. I had advanced further in the interviewing stage than for any other application.

    Over time, I could have skated on to another, this time having a network and a better job history, without the omission of certain truths.

    Oh, I never did get the job, but I attribute that to the fact that I only had a 1-in-1000 chance of getting it if I really never did have the Ph.D.

    1. Lauren Riley

      Interesting point Mavi! Thanks for sharing.

  2. CareersRish

    When I first started in careers work, there was a tale (myth?) circulating that if you had gaps in your CV, and were applying for a job in financial services, then the recruiter would assume that you had been in prison for fraud.

    1. Lauren Riley

      That’s quite extreme – hope it was a myth Rish!

  3. Alan Ellis

    Oh, I’ve seen it all in my 10+ years of recruiting and the stories and excuses just keep getting more and more outrageous! It’s hilarious sometimes to see candidates backtracking in interviews when they get caught out.
    I focus on mostly sales roles and the first thing I ask any applicant before even bringing them in for interview is what their targets were for the last three years [minimum], what their actuals were and the percentage growth that represents. If they can’t provide that their NOT sales people and I don’t need to waste my time meeting them.

    1. Lauren Riley

      Good point Alan – it must get frustrating!

  4. David Hunt PE

    I have a problem with the “if they’ve been fired” part. There is a presumption of guilt on the part of the candidate, even if they’re honest (which, of course, prompts their incentive to NOT be honest).

    In this day and age a LOT of people have been fired. Perhaps they truly were not capable, or stole, or some such… but it’s also perfectly possible they didn’t fit in culturally, were ethical in the face of an unethical company, and so on.

    1. Lauren Riley

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your commment. I didn’t say that if they’ve been fired they’re lying – I said if they’re trying to cover up being fired then that’s when concerns should be raised. It’s not about being fired – it’s about the deceit when trying to hide it.

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