Question of the day: How do you deal with candidate who has lied?

Follow up from today's RBC Daily:

How do you deal with a candidate who has lied?

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If you are 100% sure that you have caught them in a lie than to me the answer is pretty clear.

They would no longer be considered for the position that I was attempting to place them.

I know that this may seem harsh to some people but I believe that you are responsible for what you say and if you are willing to deceive someone to get a position then you can not be trusted.

I terminate my working relationship with that individual.  Realtionships are based on trust.  If I can't trust what that person, there is no use having a relationship with them.

Since I recruit for one organization, I usually find out about the lie (always about the degree) when an offer has been made and I am trying to verify it. We rescind the offer.

If someone has lied once, the second is easy and wide to clients and us. Warning is the best feedback, i think.
They get an email that says: " a discrepancy has been documented in your employment or educational background as presented to us in your resume.". "Based on this, we have withdrawn your resume from consideration by any of our clients and deleted your resume from our database.". "if you believe this to be in error, please submit a certified copy of your college transcript and reference letters from previous employers verifying your dates of employment and position."

We do not speak with them by phone. If they call we send an email that says, "we have received your message but are unable to discuss this with you until the requested information has been received."

In 35 years I have only had one who sent a certified copy of his transcript. The university had in fact made a mistake because of a glitch in their computer records and a new employee in the verification group. Most of them go away knowing they have been caught. There is no reason to have any discussion with anyone who has lied.

Depends on the lie.  If it's a bold faced lie, for instance about education or whathave you, they are outsy toutsky. 

But if they are covering up a bad situation like a firing for instance for sexual harassment or political reasons, I would stick by them and research the issues.  

I operate the 3 flag if the lie is trying to avoid short employement or not including it on their work history, flag 1.  Not able to get references because they had the one job in the US where noone is able to get them references, flag 2.  Keep in mind, not able to give references is common, but if you are in good standing, you can always find someone.  If the explanation as to why they cannot get references is a long story....flag 3.


I will stop working with them somewhere between flag 1 and flag 3.  Other reasons why they get "flagged", lazyness, confrontational, technology challenged, slow to act, and last and my favorite is don't listen to me and then try to talk over me...I hate that!   Listen to me, I have the information that you need in order for you to get a job!

PS.  When your references won't call me back.....that is a double flag!!


I had a candidate (let's call him "Sam") commit a lie of omission. On his resume he left off a company where he had served as President but then provided a reference who was connected to him via his role there, so this fact was quickly teased out during the conversation between the reference and my client (they had asked to do the ref checks themselves).

My client let me know about this and to their credit, they were suspect but open-minded enough to ask me to look into it further.

When I asked Sam about it, he immediately realized his grave error and was very contrite and forthcoming. Turns out that he had had a very short tenure in that position before the company dissolved; he had basically taken on a loser that had been sold to him as a great opportunity. He felt like it was an embarrassing blight on his career so he tried to gloss over it. He was sick about it because up to that point, he had been the front runner in this client's eyes.

The client agreed to hear him out as he threw himself on his sword. My instruction to him was to go into that call with one objective, which was to apologize and be completely honest with no expectation of a good outcome, but just to own the situation and be a man about it. He did, the client was gracious, but this incident understandably damaged his standing. I had a fantastic relationship with this client and they were genuinely torn about what to do and they ultimately went in a different direction (fortunately, with another one of my candidates). Sam continued to show a proper level of remorse and he accepted his fate with a vow to learn from the situation. He also fixed his resume lickety-split!

Interesting epilogue to this story is that nearly a year after this incident, the client inquired about Sam and asked if he'd be interested in a second chance to work as a contractor. It didn't work out for reasons unrelated to the original incident, but it did seem to bring all of us stakeholders a sense of closure.

Back to Tim's original question: Taking the specifics of this case into consideration, I didn't fire this candidate nor did I browbeat him once it was clear to me that he wasn't getting defensive or otherwise rationalizing what he had done. I made a personal decision to show some mercy and see if his rehabilitation was genuine. I did this realizing that my own credibility was also at stake. I'm a big fan of stories of redemption, and in the karma that comes from justified forgiveness. Under the circumstances, I am ok with my decision.

If they lie to me then I will lie right back with a smile on my face, no reason you can't milk them for leads and referrals.

@ Christopher this is a prime example of why I tell candidates to never leave a job off their resume. They will almost always get caught when a company verifies dates of employment. It makes me crazy that there are recruiters and those wonderful fools known as career consultants who tell candidates if the company is out of business or it was a short term job to leave it off.

I had one who left off a job. Got hired and started. All the background was back but one job. They had checked a reference with that company and knew he had worked there so let him start. When the final verification of dates came back three days after he started there was a six month gap. He fessed up that he had changed the dates because of a short term job. They let him go due to falsification of application. Everybody was sick about it. They would not have cared if he had put it on the app because the company had gone out of business but their policy is strict about applications being accurate.

They will find out so don't tell people to leave jobs off ever!

100% agree with that, Sandra!! That's the irony of my story too-- my client was crestfallen that it had played out this way because they would not have cared about his short stint in light of his other achievements and good cultural fit. Of course, it's easy for them to say that in hindsight, but I believed them based on the turmoil they went through in ultimately deciding to go in a different direction. Lesson learned!

Rule #1: BE HONEST.

Rule #2: SEE RULE #1.

I spend a lot of time talking through the transitions between jobs on a resume, taking note of seemingly little insights that will preempt nitpicky questions by the client. There are always stories to be told if you dig them out. In cases where a candidate is concerned about a negative impression, but I believe that the reason for the move was reasonable, I tell them to leave the explaining to me in the first go-round. If a client isn't going to be reasonable when "life happens", then we might as well know early on, but papering over these realities is not the answer and never will be in any facet of life.

That story of yours must've hurt. Dang.    --Chris

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