How to Spot A Fake CV or Candidate

Ever interviewed or hired a candidate with a fake CV or exaggerated profile?

How often have you seen the perfect CV and the candidate has interviewed well but when they join the organization they underperform making you wonder why their performance does not match their CV?

It is not uncommon to hear about candidates at all levels being untruthful about their qualifications, employers, achievements and salary on their CV and if this is missed during the recruitment process and they are employed, it often leads to their dismissal.

The most common lies is about education, qualifications, past job titles, employers, salary history, employment dates and gaps and references.

With most jobs now requiring a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the internet has made it simple for candidates to obtain fake qualifications and get hired.

It is not just on CVs that people misrepresent themselves – in our experience, some candidates’ information on LinkedIn is out of date, exaggerated or inaccurate which is why we do not rely on their profile for our executive search and recruitment.

With ever increasing numbers of candidates seeking employment and Human Resources departments reluctant to conduct reference checks because it can be time consuming, the rise of misrepresented CVs is on the rise and becoming a challenge for recruiters.

Some industries are notorious for high employee turnover and attrition such as retail, hospitality, financial services which makes it easier for candidates to be economical with the truth. Other industries roles include finance and technology because often companies do not test to assess ability and competence during the recruitment process.

If you’re as baffled as most normal people are as to why candidates lie on their CV, one of the main reasons is applicant tracking systems. Most organizations use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to filter CVs that match their specific requirements such as education and experience. As a result, job seekers have gotten smart about the ways ATS works and add words on their CV in the hope that they are matched.

10 tips to safeguard your organization from CV fraud:

that involves thorough reference checks, proof of salary and benefits and obtain evidence of tertiary qualifications and membership associations. Call an organization’s landline and avoid calling a mobile telephone number. Always get a reference from the Human Resources department and if the company has closed down, verify that it has actually closed down.

#2 Delve deeper during the interview process – do not be afraid to ask many questions about a candidate’s experience, past employment, salary, benefits and bonus, dates of employment and education.

#3 Be thorough during the job-related interview – ask for examples of work to test the candidate’s skill level and knowledge. Be cautious of vague responses. Probe further when someone is not able to provide specific details about past employment and unable to elaborate on experience, education and skills.

#4 Conduct a skills test – it is one thing for a candidate to say that they are proficient in a language or skill but it’s another thing when they have to demonstrate this skill during the interview process or worse still, when they have started the job.

#5 Inflated job titles – there are obvious red flags when a candidate has been promoted very quickly and the titles keep getting more senior over a short time. Experienced recruiters will also be able to pick that up and probe more deeply.

#6 Dates do not add up – ask the applicant about the months in which they began and ended working with an employer. Generally candidates who write only the years only to be hiding short durations or gaps. Question the applicant about their previous employments in detail.

#7 Body language speaks volumes – whilst the candidate thinks they can pull off their false claims, their body language will give away their discomfort at the questions being asked.

#8 References – a skilled liar may get away with embellishing their past responsibilities, experiences, education and skills but an honest reference will state facts.

#9 Consider background checks – this will have an financial implication for the organization and can be more of a challenge due to the red tape involved in getting information.

# 10 Implement a policy to deal with dishonest candidates and employees and publish it on job advertisements or a career website.

Experienced recruiters know when a CV and candidate are more fiction than fact.

A cautionary message to candidates who believe that honesty is not the best policy – be careful.

You will eventually get caught out, either during the interview process or after you’ve got the job. It will be worse when you’ve been fired!

Even if you are lucky enough to get through the filtering process and are invited to an interview, an experienced recruiter will be able to spot the lies before they hire by using competency and behaviourial interviews. By asking detailed questions and the depth of the responses they get, recruiters can determine the level of experience and whether the experience is genuine or the candidate is bluffing.


There are many risks for an organization that has not done their due diligence before employing someone. There could be loss of business, bad reputation as a careless employer and more seriously, there could be legal issues as a result of a poor hiring process.

For candidates, the problem with lying on their CV is that there is a high probability that they will eventually get caught.

Need help in avoiding hiring candidates who commit CV fraud?

If you can relate to any of this article, the time has come for you to evaluate your current recruitment process and get expert guidance on how to shortlist and recruit candidates who are genuine.

Contact us or call +971 552 167 567 and we’ll help you shortlist candidates who can do what they say they can.

About Deepa Sud

Through a global HR career at Board and senior executive level that spans across multiple FTSE 250 organisations in EMEA, APAC & America, Deepa has a visionary approach and experience of leading business transformation and turnaround through strategic talent management and leadership development to accelerate long-term growth and sustainability.

Deepa is the founder of Plum Jobs, an HR advisory and executive search consultancy based in Dubai.


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