Hiring Managers Break Down The Telltale Signs That A Job Applicant Is Just Making Things Up


It's tempting to lie on a resume to make yourself more competitive.

But, it's a bad idea.

Hiring managers have been doing this so long that they know exactly when someone is lying.

People have all kinds of tells.

u/ChocovanillaIcecream asked:

Hiring managers of reddit: what are some telltale sign that your candidate is making things up?

Here were some of those questions.

Gonna Burn

Well, I was testing a potential welder once. He showed up in shorts, muscle shirt, and flip flops... To do a weld test. And interview. I turned him away citing safety concerns about his wardrobe, and never rescheduled. Figured he was too dumb for me to deal with.


Just Say You Have A Dabbling Knowledge

Having interviewed quite a few candidates I've come to accept that many many people will try to BS their way through something they have a dabbling knowledge in. That's alright. When I ask a direct question and the person is trying to work it out on the fly to come up with an answer that sounds correct I get some great insight into their troubleshooting abilities. This only works if you know what it is you are talking about though. If you've never heard of ansible, please don't try to tell me what a great database application it is.

At the end of the day though, my favorite answer and the one most likely to get a candidate with limited experience on to the next phase is to just admit you don't know, but that you'll look it up/google it and be able to answer the question next time. Most recent candidate we hired did just that. I passed the question I'd asked them onto the next person to have time to do the interview and they were asked again. They must have had the right answer this time because I'm training them now.



We had an interview candidate who said their Excel skills were "9.5 out of 10" and they knew how to do Pivot tables.

They literally started crying when we brought out a laptop for the skills test and asked them to make a pivot table out of sample data.


Googling On Demand

One woman I interviewed literally took a pause and read the answers to the questions straight off of Google (online Skype Interview). I noticed it because they were really weird pauses and googled it myself and literally followed along like subtitles.


Why? Why You Do?

When you're doing a video interview and you can watch them try to google stuff in the reflection of their glasses. Small props for being clever though, he was paraphrasing the question back to me as a way to use the voice assistant.


It's Not A Language You Can Futz

I speak enough gringo Spanish to get by, and back in the day when I was a hiring manager, if anybody put "fluent in Spanish" on their resume, I'd walk into the interview room and introduce myself and start the interview in Spanish. The looks of panic from the kids who'd taken, like, three years of high school Spanish before college were priceless.


Made Up Right Then

As someone who has hired many technicians in IT positions, I'm amazed at how many people would fake highly technical knowledge. I remember I needed a telecom engineer with very specific knowledge of a very specific voice system. I was getting suspicious of this one candidate so I started asking about the exact syntax of command lines and this guy was actually throwing out made up commands! I was both fascinated and annoyed.


No I In Team

Maybe more of an answer about general competence but in my observation the smartest people are comfortable saying they don't know something or acknowledge limitations in their knowledge or experience. Naive or bluffing candidates want to project an air of knowing everything, which is implausible.

Another signal is how eager they are to go into depth. I interview programmers and technical staff, so I like to ask them about the project they are most proud of. I listen carefully and ask a few questions about how they worked through some thorny tech aspects. I understand that software is a team effort, but the legitimate contributors are eager to talk about technical details of what they built. The ones who just attended meetings and rarely contributed much struggle to say anything of substance. That is quite telling in my view.


When You Don't Have A Care

We had someone come in and interview for a call center position. Their resume claimed they had 3 years working in a call center in town. When she arrived, she was very lethargic, and couldn't answer basic interview questions. When asked what she did at Call Center A, she literally just said "call center rep." When asked to elaborate on her duties, she repeated the same thing. No details were given. She even claimed that she has never been asked such hard and detailed questions during a job interview before. We didn't make it past 3 very basic questions. We have concluded she lied about working at Call Center A, or at least she certainly didn't work anywhere near 3 years there.


Never Been An Executive

A common one I see a lot is work history that is grandiose and excessively overqualified, especially if it's difficult or impossible to verify. I am in a high immigration city and deal with lots of international candidates, and have met a vast amount of people with titles like "Executive Director of Worldwide Distribution" or "Senior Vice President of Global Operations" from a company in Bulgaria or Cambodia or Dubai with no phone number or English website. The position descriptors and skills on these resumes usually look copy and pasted from a template, and additionally, these people often claim master or doctorate level educations that are equally difficult to verify.

I have had more than one "CFO" interview for an entry level position who had never seen a Profit & Loss statement before.


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