Applicants lie, but managers “… can’t handle the truth!”

Applicants lie, but managers “… can’t handle the truth!”

You-Cant-Handle-the-Truth[1]Applicants lie during interviews.  No lie.  And they lie on their resumes and applications, too.

Recently, a Harvard Business Review Blog Network post referenced the results of a study that found the majority of job applicants reported they lied during job interviews.  [Vast Majority of Applicants Lie in Job Interviews – Harvard Business Review

In addition to lying to your face, many, if not most applicants, also lie on their resumes.  They alter job titles, expand work scope, enhance responsibilities, and fudge years of experience.   [Getting Rid of the Résumé and Lies and Damned Lies: Some Legal Implications of Resume Fraud and Advice for Preventing It]

Apart from moral and ethical concerns, applicant lies have very real business consequences.  The biggest is that the hiring manager might not select the best candidate: if a candidate is good at lying, the lies can positively affect the interviewer’s perceptions.  That means the best candidate might be passed over in favor of a less qualified candidate.  When that happens, the integrity of the entire hiring process is compromised and the employer’s objectives to hire the best are scuttled.

But the problem is not the lying. The problem is that hiring managers can’t handle the truth: the data they use from interviews and resumes (like education and experience) do not correlate to job success! [i]

The Truth

  • Career factors like years of experience and education have a low correlation to future success in a job.
  • Job descriptions are mostly focus on experience doing similar tasks in similar jobs and years of education.
  • People lie about experience and education because they want to get the job.
  • Hiring managers can get objective information they need to make better hiring decisions: cognitive, personality, and culture match to the job and company.
  • Objective information like this is available from valid pre-hire assessments, which have built-in tools to detect faking.

Tools like DiSC, Birkman, and Myers-Briggs are used by many organizations to help employees and teams become more effective.  But these kinds of instruments are not validated for use in hiring decisions – and they do not claim to be. 

We happen to think that the Affintus assessment is the best, but there are many assessment options to consider. With the current technology pre-hire assessments are easy to use and very affordable – way cheaper than missing the best candidate because of a lie.

[i] Schmidt, Frank L. and Hunter, John E. 1998. The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin 12: 262-274.