People lie on their CVs – here's what hiring managers can do about it

It’s a fact: People lie on CVs, whether the format is a LinkedIn profile, or an old-fashioned document. Checkster reports that 78% people who applied for a job in 2020 lied about their skills or experience. Another poll by LendEDU found that 34% of LinkedIn users lie, to some extent, on their profiles. Of that number, 55% said they padded out their ‘Skills’ section. To win roles, it seems, many of us are not above a little subterfuge.

In the time of the Great Reshuffle, when Talent Acquisition specialists and hiring managers have hours (and sometimes less) to assess candidates, interview them, and woo them, the risk of CV skill-creep is magnified. For a rushed and overworked hiring manager, who is fed up with losing talent and looking bad because of it, the process of vetting becomes less about careful analysis and more about keyword-matching. In such situations, the truth of the matter is irrelevant.

Minimum of five years experience? Check. Knows CSS? Check. Used Salesforce before? Check. Okay, let’s get them in for an interview, quick. Onto the next one.

Cut the CV dishonesty off at the source

There is a possible world in which the CV serves hiring managers as a kind of back-up validation document, used purely to verify the veracity of a candidate’s skills and experience. In this world, the first stage of your recruitment funnel is the actual candidate interview.

That’s what our Ai Smart Interviewer can do. It’s a conversational Ai that takes candidates through a chat-based interview of five questions. Candidates give their responses – with plenty of time to think – and Smart Interviewer analyses their word choices and sentence structures using its machine learning brainpower. 

A candidate may be able to lie about their years of experience, or their knowledge of CSS, but Smart Interviewer can accurately determine their cognitive ability, language proficiency, and personality traits. Then it can make recommendations to you on the best candidates, according to the criteria you’ve set – and, at this point, you haven’t even looked at a single CV.

(As a side note, personality is a critical component in finding great talent and minimising bias. This HEXACO Job Interview Rubric template can get you started on the process of vetting talent in face-to-face interviews using proven questions asked by our Ai. It’s no replacement for our end-to-end tech solution, but as a ready-to-use tool, it will certainly give you an edge).

The other kind of CV dishonesty

Nick Bosch, our Head of Growth, points out the risk of hiring managers injecting their own biases into their CV analyses. The discolouration can be subtle – for example, we may have a tendency to hunt for words and phrases that confirm our own notions about suitability, such as ‘strong’ or ‘leader’. But it can also be as elaborate as an entire organisation’s tendency to only hire from certain schools, or certain companies.

“When you look at candidates only from certain schools, or companies, or areas, you end up dramatically shrinking your talent pool,” Bosch says. “You rule a lot of people out, and you also rule out a ton of diversity. And even if you ignore, for a second, gender and ethnic diversity, you also lose the ability to think differently. You only pull from a handful of companies and suddenly you have an organisation in which you all think the same, look the same, do the same, tackle problems from the same angle.”

So, kill the CV?

Our own subscribers are divided about the purpose and future of the CV. In a recent LinkedIn poll, in which we asked ‘How do you feel about the CV’, responses were as follows:

  • 35% said ‘Kill it – it’s misleading’
  • 35% said that it’s ‘Useful for skill-based roles’
  • 30% said ‘It’s necessary always’

There you have it. The CV likely has a long life ahead, but make no mistake: It is not the fastest or most reliable method for finding the best talent.

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