How Job Candidates Lie, and the Best Lies They Always Seem to Tell

Editor’s note: TLNT is continuing an annual tradition by counting down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 3. Our regular content will return on Monday.

Every Monday morning, I have a meeting with my recruiting team.

It’s a great way to kick off the week. We share what we are working on, we talk about problems we are having on specific searches so the team can share ideas and tips, and maybe we even discuss a possible candidate they know of.

We also share stories! Monday mornings are great for sharing recruiter stories – horrible interviews, funny excuses candidates have, negotiating nightmares – you name it, we talk about it!

I was reminded this week what terrible liars candidates can be, because we seem to get a lot of candidate lying stories in the Monday morning meetings. So, as a shout out to my recruiters (and all recruiters everywhere), I wanted to put together a list of the Top Candidate Lies.

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When I started thinking about all the lies, I found I could break it down by category, so here goes. Hit me in the comments if you have a favorite lie that you get – or, if you think of one I missed:

The Education Lies

  • I have all the credits, I just didn’t graduate.
  •  “I did all the classes, I just need to pay the fees to graduate.” (So you spent four plus years going to school, got done, but that last couple of hundred dollars stopped you from graduating?)
  • “I graduated from ‘State U’, but it was a long time ago, I’m not sure why they can’t verify my degree.”
  • I had a 3.0 GPA in my ‘core’ classes, but a 1.9 GPA overall…”
  •  “Well, it was an Engineering/Business degree.”

The Background Check Lies

  • “No, I’m not on drugs.” (Then they fail the drug screen.) “Oh, you meant Marijuana as a drug…
  • She told me she was 18.”
  • “They told me in court that never would be on my file, so I didn’t think I needed to tell you.”
  • No, I don’t have a felony.” (Oh, that felony! But that was in Indiana…)

The Experience Lies

  • When you said Java, I thought you meant experience making coffee.
  • I was a part of the ‘leadership’ team that was responsible for that implementation.” (So, basically you knew of a project that happened while you were working there…)

The No-Show Interview Lies

  • My car broke down.” (Either through some fantastic wrinkle in space, or a gigantic amount of lying, candidates have more car trouble per capita than anyone else in the world who has ever driven a car.)
  • I couldn’t find your location.” (So, your answer to this dilemma was to turn around and go home and not call and let us know you got lost?)
  • My son/daughter got sick, so I can’t make it.” (Again, crazy coincidences that happen with candidates and sick kids…)

The Termination Lies

  • “It was a mutual decision that I left.” (“So, you both ‘mutually’ decided that you would no longer have a job?” is the question I always ask after this statement! Dear Candidates: this statement sounds as stupid as it reads.)
  • I (or any family member) was in a bad accident and in the hospital, so they fired me for not showing up to work.” (No they didn’t – there are some bad companies out there, but no company does this.)
  • “I play on a softball team, and after games we go out and have a couple drinks. The next morning my boss smelled alcohol and fired me for drinking on the job.” (This was a true lie I got directly from an employee. It started out as me just giving him a written warning – until I went to lunch 10 minutes later at the Chili’s down the street from the office, and no joke, there he was belly up to the bar drinking a beer. Upon cleaning out his desk we found half a fifth of vodka.)

Here’s my take on candidate lies: Candidates continue to lie because Talent/HR Pros don’t call them out on it. We (HR) also perpetuate this problem by hiring the folks who give you the crappy lie, but don’t hire the folks who come clean and tell you the truth.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.