Fraudulent job applications are more prevalent than you may think. A slight discrepancy here or there can easily be missed. And, if background checks aren’t in place, a dishonest applicant can successfully secure the role and be in situ in your company. Deception in false job applications ranges from inaccurate academic attendance dates to entirely fabricated degrees of no merit.

Making it even easier for fraudulent applicants to slip through the net is the fact that 48% of hiring managers do not verify a candidate’s credentials. With dedicated services in place to avoid underqualified ‘professionals’ remaining undiscovered during the hiring process, including technology that unearths the slightest document inconsistencies, there are numerous ways to mitigate risk when hiring. 

More often than not, finding the perfect candidate for a job can be difficult. By implementing the following HR practices you will be able to spot a false job application from a mile away. Doing so early on allows you to allocate your precious time, resources and energy back into your talent pipeline to onboard the right (highly skilled and desirable) candidates. 

Be Transparent From The Beginning 

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

From the start, let a candidate know what licenses, qualifications, certificates, background checks etc. you will be asking for as part of the hiring process. Make sure they understand that you, or a company you have outsourced, will be contacting multiple employers as stated on their application. It’s important to establish an accurate representation of who this applicant is in order to make sure that their previous experience is aligned with what is on their CV or the job application they submitted to your company. Often these steps weed out dishonesty, if an applicant knows their lies will be unearthed, they’ll likely drop out of the hiring process themselves. Or, sometimes their feedback or unwillingness to submit such documents is enough of an indicator for you to pump the breaks of the application altogether. Not only is it part of an employer’s role to be upfront about the job from the point of advertisement, but doing so attracts genuine contenders and deters the misleading ones. 

Pick Up The Phone

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

When approaching potential discrepancies of an otherwise suitable candidate, it’s best to give your prospect a call. Give your applicant a chance to explain any unemployment gaps, specific skills stated on their application (ask for details and experience), reasons for leaving past employment and career moves. If it’s an employment discrepancy you’re looking into, ask the applicant for specific information on the address of the previous company, number of employees, name of their line manager etc. Cross-question and listen to evaluate the information being given to you. Is the information on the application consistent with what the prospect says on the phone? Does it all add up?

Inspect Employment Titles 

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

Up to 50% of the workforce in the US is comprised of millennials. As a result, workplace culture and processes have been through a massive change. To be seen as forward-thinking and progressive often means a change in job titles. A CEO is now a ‘Chief Rockstar’, a developer is a ‘Full Stack Magician, and a company lawyer is a ‘Legal Guru’. Although quirky, it’s very easy for anyone to come up with a title that sounds more important than it was and which doesn’t quite encompass their previous employment, if any. When you speak to the applicant’s previous employers to verify their employment information, they’ll confirm or deny this. So, when in doubt, check it out. 

Review Employment History and Skills

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

When looking at an applicant’s employment history, seek out ‘blanket descriptions’. Generalised ‘detail’ can indicate loose knowledge of a topic, subject or skill. When speaking to your applicant on the phone, ask for more specific information, particularly quantifiable information. Precise and accurate answers may indicate that your prospect isn’t great at writing an application, but is well-versed in the role advertised. Anxiousness may be normal, but ambiguity is a big red flag.

If someone has indicated that they have certain skills, check that they’re competent. Do they speak intermediate French? Initiate conversation with them in that language. Do they code Java? Ask them a relevant question about that skill and set tasks which demonstrate their knowledge. Be creative and keep an eye out for well-answered responses. 

Verify Educational History

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

With the rise of diploma mills, access to fraudulent credentials is easier than ever. Many job-seekers who use false educational certificates apply for roles in high-risk industries such as healthcare, finance and engineering. A quick internet search to see whether the institution is accredited or not could save you a lot of hassle in the long run. 

Check the institution attendance dates too. Was that specific qualification available at that institution during the time period stated? When you call an applicant, confident and accurate answers will give you a better understanding of whether they are being truthful about their educational history or not. Stories similar to this unlicensed doctor in the US show the repercussions of practicing without verified credentials

Conduct a Linkedin Search

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

This is a great way to find information to back up an applicant’s professional qualifications. It can also highlight any background or inconsistencies and quickly discredit a dishonest applicant. Taking a look at a prospect’s Linkedin can present you with a better understanding of their personality and other attributes that could slot in well with your company culture. On the other hand, it’s possible to uncover plagiarism, contradictory application information or inappropriate content that doesn’t resonate with your company’s values. Don’t forget to take a look at the ‘recommendations’ section. This is a great profile section which, if populated, may give you a better understanding of the applicant’s work ethic, achievements and teamwork according to previous colleagues or employers.

Use HR-Specific Technology

7 Ways to Spot False Job Applications

Some companies integrate certain software that not only spots grammar and spelling mistakes but has plagiarism features too. This highlights whether an application has been copied and pasted and will instantly set off warning bells. 

Doing a quick internet search can prove fruitful too. With search engines constantly learning from human input, they are a powerful tool not to be overlooked and can be very revealing. 

Leveraging the right recruitment technology that gives you a 360 view of an applicant’s career history, qualifications and experience will quickly enable you to find ideal candidates much quicker than traditional HR processes. Embracing information-rich hiring tools will allow you to hone-in on the sincere and reputable applicants with no delay. Consider the use of a reliable recruitment tool a necessary part of the ‘quality control’ element of your processes. 

Typos happen and mistakes are made. There may be an explanation, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Use recruitment platforms which offer pre-verified candidates, like recruiting. The cost of a bad hire is not what you want to be held accountable for. Weed false applications out early on and let your prospective shortlist bloom.

If verification is something you’re keen to add to your hiring process, then can help. What are you interested in?

– Hiring pre-verified candidates? Sign up for your Recruiting 7-day FREE trial here

– Verifying a new employee? Contact a member of our team via