Only 5% of people admit to being dishonest when applying for a job, which is a huge discrepancy when compared to the 75% of employers who have caught candidates lying on their resumes. If you think it’s just entry-level or middle management folks fibbing to land a gig, you’re wrong, as evidenced by these 17 executives busted for bending the truth.
Lies at Every Level
Some job seekers, like Mathew Martoma, majored in lying in college and have the doctored documents to prove it. Born Ajai Mathew Mariamdani Thomas, Martoma changed his name after being expelled from Harvard Law School for fabricating his academic transcript. After attempting to cover up his lies with falsified evidence from a non-existent computer forensics company, Martoma was accepted into Stanford’s MBA program. After graduation, he went to work for SAC Capital where he was arrested and charged in the most lucrative insider trading case ever prosecuted in U.S. history.
Then there are those who make a career of cheating their way into C-Suite positions. Just four months after firing CEO Carol Bartz, Yahoo! appeared to have done their due diligence by hiring former PayPal president, Scott Thompson. Five months later, Thompson was axed when a shareholder discovered he had lied on his resume, falsely claiming to hold a degree in computer science.
Why People Lie
According to research funded by the SHRM Foundation, the Fraud Triangle may help explain why people choose to lie on their resumes.
- Opportunity – Job opening; chance to exploit the system
- Pressure – Envy of others’ success; concern over being compared to more
- Rationalization – A sense of entitlement; thinks there’s no other way to get hired
Additionally, the study found that those prone to lying on their resumes have typically developed a pattern of cheating throughout their lives, have a history of deviant behavior, or simply possess lower levels of moral identity.
Skilled resume liars are often rewarded with multiple job interviews and, quite often, steal positions from hard-working truth-tellers. Hiring a cheater can send a company down a path of fraud, liability, and embarrassment so employers must learn to fight back. Fortunately, there are several proven methods to spot a poser before they infiltrate your business.
- Script the interview – Proficient liars can often control the interview by manipulating the conversation, thus changing the hiring manager’s perception. Insist the candidate answer the questions asked and record all of their answers
- Research their resume – Often, resumes contain red flags that should trigger further scrutiny
- Obscure job beginning and end dates
- Vague contact information
- Failure to provide references
- Exaggerated skill descriptions like, “world-class” or “most accomplished”
- Awards and honors that can’t be verified
- Screen – Hiring best-practice is to conduct verification and background screening on all potential employees. Period.
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