Recruiting Roadmap: Dealing with Dishonest Candidates

Aug. 8, 2022
From red flags on resumes to background checks, it is an employer's duty to be sure there is trust in a potential employee

This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

Candidate interviewing is difficult for even the most Sherlock Holmes-esque hiring managers. It is a judgment call at best and even with solid reference checks, candidates who promised the world may sometimes fall flat.

What about when a candidate says something in an interview that you know is not true? More than 75% of employers have caught candidates in a lie, according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.

Look for Red Flags

Whether it is a little white lie about their skillset or responsibilities, or something more serious related to their background check, chances are, you have been forced to make a few hard decisions once the information comes out.

Here are two potential red flags that managers should look for when assessing a resume or candidate:

1. Unemployment gaps: If you notice resume dates have gaps, be sure to clarify with the candidate why they are there. If the reasons seem valid, feel free to proceed, but extended gaps in unemployment with a variety of excuses requires a little more investigation. Another issue commonly found on resume dates is when the positions that are listed only include the year, not the month, this may be an attempt to hide short stints at companies.

2. Unrealistic upward mobility: It is great to hire candidates with career progression, but if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Candidates who inflate their career progression might be overstating their abilities and ultimately might be misrepresenting themselves. While upward mobility is typically a great sign, you will want to see at least two years in each role within a company; otherwise, it would suggest they might be running from something.

Check Them Out

One no-brainer, especially in the security industry, is to always conduct a background check. Make all offers subject to a successful background check and do not skimp on it. You would be surprised what comes up about even the most polished candidates.

Depending on your company’s guidelines and code of ethics, you can determine what crimes or charges are acceptable and which ones are not. If something comes up, do not panic; instead, address it with the candidate (if HR allows) and take it from there.

Once the background check is complete, it is time to check their references. Reference checks are great, but they are usually a layup, as the candidate has prepped their references ahead of time. The single best way to get a valid reference on a candidate is to find someone in common who you know and trust and ask their opinion about their experience with the candidates.

Don’t Give in to Desperation

If you catch a candidate in a lie during an interview, do not move forward. End of story.

Remove the candidate from the process, and if they ask why, simply confront them and let them know very plainly. Lying is one of the quickest relationship destroyers, and once someone lies, they are likely to do it again. Even the smallest of lies should be taken seriously.

Most importantly, never let the desperation of filling a position overtake morality. There are always more candidates and alternate solutions to be determined that will fit the needs of a company. The only thing you have in this world is your word, and if that cannot be trusted from the beginning, there is simply no point in moving forward.

Ryan Joseph is an Executive Recruiter for Recruit Group (, with a focus on security industry operations, sales, and sales leadership. For help with your security recruiting efforts, contact her at [email protected] or call (954) 278-8286.

About the Author

Ryan Joseph

Ryan Joseph is the VP of Security and Public Safety Technology Recruiting at Recruit Group, specializing in operations, sales, and sales leadership from Entry Level to the C-Level. Mention this article and receive a free 30-minute hiring consultation. [email protected] - (954) 278-8286