5 Signs A Candidate Is Exaggerating

For the majority of recruiters, they don’t think twice about taking candidates at face value. With hundreds of CV’s to go through, interviews to schedule and urgent vacancies to fill, you’re unlikely to have the time to thoroughly dig into a candidate’s background. Whilst the majority of the time candidates are honest, every once in a while you will come across a candidate who chooses to either exaggerate or lie about their experience to land their dream role. 

If a dishonest candidate is hired, the consequences can be disastrous. It is likely to lead to the candidate being dismissed and replacing an employee is time-consuming, expensive and tedious. We’ve put together a list of signs that a candidate is exaggerating or lying, so you can be aware before taking them any further.

  1. They Give Vague Answers

Every recruiter will have encountered it before – you ask a candidate a thoughtful question, and they respond with an imprecise, evasive answer. This is not always a sign that the candidate didn’t sufficiently prepare for the interview, it could also indicate dishonesty. When they are discussing their experience, they should be able to confidently use industry jargon and cite processes, metrics and team members roles. 

If a candidate is giving vague and incomplete answers, recruiters should push them to elaborate. Remain silent to encourage the candidate to elaborate, or politely ask. You could also repeat a question, either immediately after the candidate’s response or later in the interview. Asking later in the interview is a good test to see whether the candidate is consistent with their answers, and therefore honest.

2. Their Body Language

People’s body language gives a lot away, and often you can tell whether or not someone is lying just from observing them. Some signs of lying that you can watch out for in people’s body language are – constant fidgeting, avoidance of eye contact during important questions and darting eyes. 

It’s worth keeping in mind that these are also signs of nervousness, there’s a big difference between a candidate who fidgets once in a while and a candidate who goes on about their extensive experience whilst refusing to make eye contact.

3. They Only Talk About Team Achievements

Teamwork is extremely important in the modern workplace, but be cautious of the candidate who only talks about their accomplishments as part of a group. This could suggest that they’re not as individually competent as you may need them to be. 

Dig deeper into team achievements, asking about their specific role in the group or something that they did on their own. 

4. They Get Defensive

One of the biggest signs that a candidate is lying is if they get defensive when asked probing questions into their backgrounds and experience. If a candidate appears to deflect a probing question or dismiss your concerns, you could have a fabricator on your hands.

5. Their Skills Don’t Pass The Sniff Test

One of the most common things candidates exaggerate about is their skill-set. Fortunately, there are easy ways to assess their competence. If someone claims to be proficient in using Excel, you could simply ask them to tell you the most complex thing they have ever done with the software. Another way to assess a candidate’s proficiency is through an assignment or exam.