With an increasingly busy jobs market, employers are often faced with hundreds of applications for every position. It’s quite a task to sort through all of the applications and work out which ones are worth inviting to interview. With a high number of applications containing at best exaggerations and at worst downright lies, how do you spot a dodgy application in amongst the piles of paper or inbox full of emails?

Cover Letter

All serious job hunters know that it’s essential to craft an individual cover letter for each position, explaining exactly how you meet the criteria in the job advert. If someone hasn’t bothered to do that, and appears to be sending out generic letters, then they are either lazy, or not aware of the conventions around job hunting. If you only have a limited pool of candidates then you may choose to overlook a generic letter, but in most cases, these applications should be disregarded.

Spot the Cliché

If your applicant sounds like one of those Apprentice candidates who confidently says they are the best salesperson ever, then what else could they be telling fibs about? Words like “driven”, “passionate” or “results-oriented” are used so frequently that they have lost their meaning. A candidate who uses cliché isn’t necessarily lying, but do they have the evidence in their work experience to back up their claims?

Right Work Experience

Experience will depend on the position – someone recruiting for a graduate training scheme for example will not expect years of relevant experience from someone straight out of university. For other candidates, check that their work experience matches your requirements. Candidates who don’t quite have the required experience shouldn’t be discounted if they are strong in other areas. It’s also wise to check references to confirm that claimed job titles match up to what employers have told you about a candidate’s employment history.

Weird Job Titles

If you are recruiting people from within the same industry, you’re the expert on the terminology used and the terms used to describe jobs. If a candidate is using terms which sound odd or out of place or claiming to have carried out tasks which you do not associate with their previous employer, they might well be telling fibs. Similarly, someone swapping frequently from job to job, often in very different industries, can be an indication that they are either an unreliable employee, or someone who’s economical with the truth.

Interviews are Key

Often, lies can only be uncovered at interview stage. It makes sense to have someone on the interview panel who understands the industry and specifics of the job rather than someone from HR or a different department. A skilled interviewer will soon be able to work out whether a candidate really has done the tasks they are claiming or has exaggerated their role. This can be done in a non-confrontational way, but any discrepancies should be fully investigated and if there’s still a doubt after interview whether a candidate is telling the truth, then it’s probably best not to employ them.