Don't get fooled by a fake resume: A Guide to Spotting Fraud

  • 3/12/2023
  • Kevin Rosenquist
Don't get fooled by a fake resume: A Guide to Spotting Fraud image
As a business owner or HR professional, you want to hire the best people. You have processes in place to help narrow down often long lists of interested candidates. The hope, of course, is that the ones who make it to the final round of interviews are the cream of the crop. Applicants know this and are going to do everything they can to impress on their resume. Unfortunately, some job applicants may attempt to deceive you by exaggerating their skills, experience, or education.This is known as resume fraud, and it can be costly for your business. You could waste time training someone who lacks the skills you need for the position. You also could miss out on a qualified candidate that was passed over for the person with the padded resume. If you’re diligent, you can spot resume fraud. All it takes is a bit of sleuthing and a keen eye. Here are four tips on how to spot resume fraud during the interview process.

Look for inconsistencies in the resume

A tactic that is common in HR is to ask the candidate questions that are already on their resume. How quickly and accurately they respond can give you insight into the validity of their claims. During the interview, ask the candidate about their work experience, skills, and education. If their responses don't match the information on their resume, it could be a sign of resume fraud. If they stumble a lot while answering, and it feels like more than standard interview jitters, there may be cause for concern. If they claim a degree, ask specific questions about the college they attended. It can be about the school itself, the football team, the city where the college is located, or anything else that someone with a degree should know. If they claim to have worked at a company for several years but can't provide any specific details about their responsibilities or accomplishments, it could also be a red flag.

Ask for references and follow up with them

A candidate who has nothing to hide will have no problem providing you with references. Sure, the references they provide will most likely be people they know are willing to sing their praises. But too often employers don’t actually check the references and some candidates might be willing to roll the dice. They might include impressive names and titles hoping you won’t actually make the calls. Contact the references and ask them about the candidate's work history, skills, and overall performance. If the references provide inconsistent or vague information, it could be a sign that the candidate is lying on their resume. If it feels like the reference is less than enthused to be talking about the candidate, perhaps the candidate didn’t impress them and it’s cause for concern.

Verify the candidate's education and credentials

This is especially important for positions that require very specific skills or knowledge. Candidates have been known to embellish education and certifications or straight up lie about having them. Contact the school or institution where the candidate received their education and ask for verification. You can also contact the issuing organization for any certifications the candidate claims to have. Contacting the right people and getting responses from educational institutions can sometimes be a struggle. It can be time consuming and difficult to complete. If you’re conducting background checks on candidates, most companies offer education verification as part of their services. They have the experience and contacts to get better results when it comes to confirming a person’s education.

Conduct a thorough background check

On that note, conducting thorough background checks for employment is an essential tool for verifying a candidate's employment history, criminal record, and other important information. Services like education verification, employment verification, and even drug testing helps to validate the claims made on a resume or in an interview. If you’re hiring for a position that requires driving or deliveries, motor vehicle reports give you insights to any potential problems the applicant may have had behind the wheel. Identity checks are also a key component to verifying a candidate’s resume. I-9 and E-Verify searches confirm a candidate’s ability to work here in the United States. Social Security Number traces and verifications provide a detailed address history, AKAs, and help confirm an applicant's SSN is a legitimate number. As always, when using employment screening as part of your hiring process, it’s imperative that you work with a reputable background check company. There are a myriad of websites that make big claims about their abilities and certifications. But many of them are not FCRA certified. If you dig deep on their website you’ll likely find a reference to that. Always work with employment screening companies that are FCRA certified. If they don’t have the skills, knowledge, and training to conduct proper background checks you could open yourself up to problems.

It would be great if everyone were honest. But as we all know, that’s simply not the case. Spotting resume fraud will ensure you have the best people in place to build an effective team.