I cannot tell a lie… or a good one, anyway

Posted by Thomas Murphy

February 15, 2013 @ 03:59 PM

Interview LiesAs the average American is prepping for Presidents’ day and hopefully a long restful weekend, we at TheLadders are reminded of the famous story about George Washington, that ill-fated cherry tree, and the importance of honesty. When looking for that next career move, it’s imperative to put your best foot forward, but after asking our recruiters, “what is the worst lie you’ve heard during an interview?” it became apparent that all too often, job seekers wind up putting their foot in their mouth instead.

After reviewing the recruiters’ stories, which they happily shared, we found that during the interview/onboarding process, there are 4 main types of lies:

1. Resume & past accomplishments

“Had a candidate that stated on his resume that he was a graduate of the United States Military Academy (my alma mater). Our company, a government contractor, verified his history. Apparently our company didn't think to verify that he actually graduated from West Point. To mislead someone about that would be really brazen. Brazen he was. Terminated. He probably would have been better off saying he graduated from the Canadian or French, or Botswana Military Academy.”

2. Criminal background

“I asked the candidate point blank, ‘is there anything negative that may come up in a background, credit and DMV check?’. He said, "nope, nothing, for sure." Turns out he forgot about the 2 felony DUI's he had in the last year, and a court appointment scheduled for the following week!”

3. Current drug use

“Just heard my boss telling this one this morning. A candidate failed the drug test, coming up positive for - of all things - crack cocaine. When confronted on his start date, he claimed his step son must have put some in the coffee creamer or something. Really?” 

4. Unreal and elaborate

“Had a candidate interview as her twin sister (using her ID and all. It wasn't caught until the background check when she used her own SSN. She stuck with the lie until her past residences didn't match up. Her reason for lying was that she didn't have a high school diploma but her sister did. The offer was rescinded.”

The common theme is that every lie reported by recruiters was easily identified. With today’s technology enabling near-instant background and drug tests, not to mention simple common sense (one jobseeker claimed to have an IQ of 290 when the highest IQ ever recorded is only in the 250 range), it pays to follow George Washington’s advice. The truth will set you free.

To see all the crazy tales, visit the Recruit Blog.  

Thomas Murphy is the director of client relations & sales, employer marketing, at TheLadders. Tom works with his team to understand how employers use technology to help them find the best candidates. When not talking shop about HR, he is trying to get back in shape so he does not embarrass himself at the team triathlon next year.