Telling lies during the recruitment process is more common than many of us might think. According to a study by CareerBuilder, the most common lies told by candidates relate to: the falsification of skills (32%), academic achievements (19%), previous employers (18%), qualifications (7%) and the education centre where courses were studied (5%).

I’m sure many of us would feel very uncomfortable if someone were to say to us “you’re lying on your CV”. However, if we change the word ‘lie’ – which can be rather pejorative – to embellish, exaggerate… then perhaps we might identify with this practice a little more.

I do not like, and do not intend to give advice to anyone, but allow me to throw this thought out there: For me, the ultimate goal in any recruitment process is for the company to find the right candidate for the job – and vice-versa, for the candidate to find the right company and job.

There are two parties involved and both of them need to make the right choice. In my humble opinion, lying is only a short-term solution that, in the current economic climate, actually deserves to be valued independently of the expiry date it might have. The truth will come to light, it’s just a matter of time: “Didn’t you say you speak English?” “Didn’t you say something about programming experience?”… Now, we said there are two parties involved in this process. So, any lack of alignment between candidate and job could equally stem from broken promises made by the interviewer of a candidate engineer, linguist, MBA or successful expert with three other job offers on the table who the interviewer doesn’t want to lose. “Where’s the training I should be able to access?” “And the promotion I was going to get if I achieved my objectives?”

We are sometimes visited by that little friend called Lie during a recruitment process, and he is sometimes invited along by the candidate and sometimes by the interviewer. In neither situation will he help the candidate fit into the job successfully. “A lie is a ghost that will never stop haunting you, while only you know the truth… and that doesn’t mean you have to tell the truth, but rather just be honest”.


Ramón Rodríguez Lago
HR Analytics Acciona S.A.