As an employer, you will no doubt have an idea of what you’re looking for in a candidate, whether it’s a particular qualification or a certain level of experience. But finding the right person for the job isn’t always easy, and sifting through dozens of applications can be overwhelming when there’s so much to consider.

Hiring someone based on false pretences can be time-consuming and expensive, so it’s important to identify whether someone is telling the truth about their experience and expertise before you make a job offer.

We’ve put together some tips to help you work out whether a candidate is being honest about their suitability, or whether they’re being economical with the truth.

Read a candidate’s CV thoroughly

Paying close attention to the information provided on a CV can help you work out whether an applicant is being truthful or not.

Honest candidates with a well-constructed CV, or who have used a professional CV writing service, should be able to demonstrate what experience they have and use specific examples to prove it.

If an applicant has been vague on the details and used generic buzzwords, you may want to do a little more digging. You’re more likely to trust a candidate that has specifically outlined the details of their achievements, rather than someone who is unable to back up their declarations with proof.

It’s also important to look for any glaring omissions on an applicant’s CV. There may be a reason for any long periods of unemployment, but be sure to mark it as a topic of conversation if they haven’t explained why. Reading the CV thoroughly will also help you identify any inconsistencies that come up during the interview.

Ask specific questions

If an applicant was vague about their achievements on their CV, give them the chance to expand by asking for more specific examples during the interview.

While generic and open-ended interview questions such as ‘tell us about yourself…’ are good conversation starters, try and concentrate on the particulars of their employment history and expertise. For example, if an applicant claims to be able to use a certain type of software, ask them what they find difficult about it or what they would improve. The more detail a candidate is able to provide about their experiences, the more likely you are to believe them.


While a thorough and detailed CV is advantageous, there’s only so much a candidate can demonstrate on a couple of pieces of paper. If they have completed a particular project or have a portfolio of work, ask them to bring hard copies to the interview so you can take a look. This way you will be able to tell whether a candidate has been truthful about their achievements and the standard of their work.

Set a test

If the role you are recruiting for requires specialist skills or a certain qualification, it’s a good idea to set a test for your candidates. Whether it’s an academic assessment or something more hands-on, tests will help you gauge how honest an applicant has been about their abilities and how qualified they really are for the job.

Reference checks

Don’t forget to check out their references. Other like-minded employers will be able to give you a firsthand account of an applicant’s capabilities and may help you fill in any gaps.

Check out their online identity

As part of the recruitment process, take a look at an applicant’s online presence. If there are omissions on their CV or if something doesn’t quite stack up, check the information you have been given corresponds with their LinkedIn page. Social media can also give you a good insight into a person’s interests and their passion for the field they work in.

Other ways to tell if a candidate is being truthful

If you’re still unsure whether a candidate is being truthful or not, listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t sound right or if an applicant’s answers make you feel cautious, there may well be a reason for it. It’s important to feel at ease in the company of a potential employee, and if they’re not telling the truth, there’s a chance the interview may feel uncomfortable.

Author bio: Andrew Arkley is the founder and senior writer of PurpleCV. With over 15 years’ experience in HR and recruitment at a senior level, Andrew knows precisely what it takes to land a job.