How to spot a dishonest CV

When hiring, one of the most important values an employer is looking for in a new member of staff is honesty. However, we know that many people in the UK lie on their CVs – estimates of how many vary from one in six to one in three. CV dishonesty can cause serious problems for employers – from needing to find new candidates/employees to damage to company reputation to issues with industry regulators. For candidates the consequences of lying and being caught out are significant – job offers are likely to be withdrawn, agencies will not want to work with them and, for those already hired, employment will probably be terminated.

Most candidates understand this and yet lying on CVs remains high. So why do candidates still do it? We find the most common reasons are as follows:

  • To look more impressive and get that interview
  • To cover up a gap in employment
  • To disguise a dismissal
  • To win a higher salary

Some candidates feel they won’t get an interview if they are accurate on their CV, or that they need to try and hide a mistake that lost them a previous role but at RecruitAbility we advise all our candidates that honesty is always the best policy. If you don’t have the right experience or are missing some of the skills required this is probably not the right job.

When looking through a candidate’s CV it helps to know what people are most likely to lie about. In our experience lies about education, experience, job title, skills, dates of employment and salary are most common – and there are things you can do to spot them.

Check carefully and listen to your instincts

Checking potential interviewees’ CVs carefully is essential. When you’re hiring and having to go through dozens – or even more – of CVs it is tempting to skip through them quickly. But paying careful attention could save you time and money. If the CV doesn’t “add up” or feels off to you check it – perhaps a previous job title is too senior for someone straight out of university, or a qualification or educational institution doesn’t sound quite right. You can double-check details online or by speaking to referees and previous employers.

Investigate the dates

Pay particular attention to dates of employment – sometimes a candidate may want to fudge the dates they started or left a job to cover something up – perhaps a dismissal or redundancy they feel ashamed of and want to hide, or a role that was work experience rather than employment. Listen to your instincts and if the dates don’t feel right then you should be able to follow them up.

Use social media

You can check a candidate’s CV against their social media accounts, particularly on LinkedIn. Skills and experience should match – and if they don’t you have good reason to look into things further.

Prepare for interview

If the candidate is very promising, despite your concerns about their CV and you invite them for interview prepare thoroughly beforehand. Careful preparation allows you to target questions to any uncertainties and should either reassure you or confirm that the CV is not honest.

Background checks and skills evaluation

Carry out background checks if necessary. Some roles require regulatory checking such as DBS or similar but if not always make sure to take up references, speak to previous employers and asking for proof of qualifications. Other roles require a level of skill, perhaps in a particular programming language or a particular administrative task. Asking candidates to perform an evaluation task can confirm they have the skills they claim.

Make use of your network

Investigate your network – sometimes candidates will have come to you through a referral programme or because they know your business through someone else. In that case it should be possible to verify the claims on their CV.

Work with an agency

Working with a reputable recruitment agency can help. At RecruitAbility we make sure all our candidates understand just how important it is to be honest on your CV. We also have vast experience checking CVs and weeding out any that are dishonest. To find out more about what we could do for your business call 01279 758855 to speak to one of our consultants or visit


Posted on Monday Jan 20