Hiring Managers Talk About How People Lie During Job Interviews

©Unsplash,Sebastian Herrmann

True story: I have a friend who was interviewing for a job. The people asked him, “what is your proudest accomplishment?” He panicked and couldn’t think of anything…so he said he’d recently lost 300 pounds…

Nice move!

I guess lying during job interviews isn’t really all that uncommon, based on these responses.

Folks on AskReddit shared their personal stories.

1. Flip flops, huh?

“Well, I was testing a potential welder once. He showed up in shorts, muscle shirt, and flip flops…to do a weld test. And interview.

I turned him away citing safety concerns about his wardrobe, and never rescheduled. Figured he was too dumb for me to deal with.”

2. Time to panic.

“I speak enough gringo Spanish to get by, and back in the day when I was a hiring manager, if anybody put “fluent in Spanish” on their resume, I’d walk into the interview room and introduce myself and start the interview in Spanish.

The looks of panic from the kids who’d taken, like, three years of high school Spanish before college were priceless.”

3. And then there’s this.

“Putting fluent in English on their resume and not knowing a word of English when I conduct the interview in English.”

4. Fake it until you make it.

“When you’re doing a video interview and you can watch them try to Google stuff in the reflection of their glasses.

Small props for being clever though, he was paraphrasing the question back to me as a way to use the voice assistant.”

5. Reading along.

“One woman I interviewed literally took a pause and read the answers to the questions straight off of Google (online Skype Interview).

I noticed it because they were really weird pauses and googled it myself and literally followed along like subtitles.”

6. Never a good idea.

“As someone who has hired many technicians in IT positions, I’m amazed at how many people would fake highly technical knowledge. I remember I needed a telecom engineer with very specific knowledge of a very specific voice system.

I was getting suspicious of this one candidate so I started asking about the exact syntax of command lines and this guy was actually throwing out made up commands! I was both fascinated and annoyed.”

7. It is quite telling…

“Maybe more of an answer about general competence but in my observation the smartest people are comfortable saying they don’t know something or acknowledge limitations in their knowledge or experience. Naive or bluffing candidates want to project an air of knowing everything, which is implausible.

Another signal is how eager they are to go into depth. I interview programmers and technical staff, so I like to ask them about the project they are most proud of. I listen carefully and ask a few questions about how they worked through some thorny tech aspects.

I understand that software is a team effort, but the legitimate contributors are eager to talk about technical details of what they built. The ones who just attended meetings and rarely contributed much struggle to say anything of substance. That is quite telling in my view.”

8. Here come the waterworks.

“We had an interview candidate who said their Excel skills were “9.5 out of 10″ and they knew how to do Pivot tables.

They literally started crying when we brought out a laptop for the skills test and asked them to make a pivot table out of sample data.”

9. A risky move.

“I work at an architecture firm and I kid you not, a candidate attached one of our projects in her portfolio. Exactly same 3D rendering. It wasn’t even listed on the company website, how she got it is still baffling. The hiring manager just played along.”

10. No verification.

“A common one I see a lot is work history that is grandiose and excessively overqualified, especially if it’s difficult or impossible to verify. I am in a high immigration city and deal with lots of international candidates, and have met a vast amount of people with titles like “Executive Director of Worldwide Distribution” or “Senior Vice President of Global Operations” from a company in Bulgaria or Cambodia or Dubai with no phone number or English website.

The position descriptors and skills on these resumes usually look copy and pasted from a template, and additionally, these people often claim master or doctorate level educations that are equally difficult to verify.

I have had more than one “CFO” interview for an entry level position who had never seen a Profit & Loss statement before.”

11. Know your resume.

“Not knowing their resume is always the biggest tip-off. “It says here you know apache, can you give more insight into what you did?” and then I get that dead fish eye face like I just asked them to kill my grandma.

I’ll even help them out a bit and give them file names and ask if they edited them and if I continue to get a space cadet I’ll just revert to generic questions to pad out the rest of the interview and hit the 30 minute mark.”

12. Wow, that’s insane.

“Sketchy job history, or several jobs in a short time span. I had a woman once that had around 10 jobs over the last 2.5 years-she claimed to have a ‘wealth of knowledge’ from all of these different ‘opportunities to learn’.

She talked around most questions, and long story short, I found out that she and a friend would apply at companies as minorities, and then quit and sue for discrimination. She had sued 8 of the 10. Bullet dodged.”

13. Time to be tested.

“When they get to round two and I test them on the things they made up.

I have felt bad for some of them. Last bad one was an “Excel Expert” who couldn’t do basic tasks with a pivot table.

I think the worst was a candidate that could not multiple or divide by 10.”

14. What are you talking about?

“1] They ramble and the answers make absolutely no sense.

2] They never answer the question asked. They talk about something they are comfortable with in the hopes I don’t notice that they didn’t answer.

3] Give them an easy test. One that, if you knew your skill you should pass easily and within 5 minutes. If it takes longer, you either lied on your resume or suck at what you say you are good at.”

15. Total bulls**t.

“Having interviewed quite a few candidates I’ve come to accept that many many people will try to BS their way through something they have a dabbling knowledge in. That’s alright.

When I ask a direct question and the person is trying to work it out on the fly to come up with an answer that sounds correct I get some great insight into their troubleshooting abilities. This only works if you know what it is you are talking about though. If you’ve never heard of ansible, please don’t try to tell me what a great database application it is.

At the end of the day though, my favorite answer and the one most likely to get a candidate with limited experience on to the next phase is to just admit you don’t know, but that you’ll look it up/google it and be able to answer the question next time. Most recent candidate we hired did just that.

I passed the question I’d asked them onto the next person to have time to do the interview and they were asked again. They must have had the right answer this time because I’m training them now.”

You gotta have some balls to lie during a job interview…at least I think so.

How about you?

Have you ever done this? Or had a job candidate lie to you?

Share your stories with us in the comments!