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interview questions to ask a candidate who may have embellished their resume

To identify exaggerated claims on a resume, you'll need to carefully examine a candidate's employment history, qualifications, and stated accomplishments. Pay attention to unexplained gaps, rapid job changes, and questionable institutions. During the interview, ask for specific examples of their achievements and the processes they used to reach them. Get them to talk about a new skill they've learned quickly, or a tool they've utilized previously. Investigate their problem-solving skills and team experiences, as well as individual successes. The more you probe, the clearer their true capabilities will become. Keep exploring; you'll uncover more with every question.



Understanding The Difference Between Exaggeration And Lying

The main difference between exaggeration and lying lies in the intent and the degree of truthfulness. Exaggeration involves stretching the truth to a certain extent, often due to insecurity or a desire to fit in, such as overstating your skills. Lying, however, is a deliberate act of deception, such as making up qualifications or experiences you don't actually have. This distinction is crucial for maintaining integrity and trust within a team.

When someone exaggerates on their resume, they're typically enhancing their actual experiences, like asserting proficiency in a software they've only used minimally. It's not a completely honest representation, but it doesn't entirely fabricate the truth.

Contrastingly, lying is a deliberate misrepresentation of facts. It could involve claiming to have led a project they weren't involved in, or creating qualifications they don't have. This dishonesty can sever trust, which is fundamental for any successful community.

To differentiate between exaggeration and lying during an interview, one should ask appropriate questions and pay attention to the candidate's body language. The aim isn't to catch them in a lie, but to gauge their level of honesty, which is crucial for team dynamics.

Whether you are hiring a junior member of your marketing team or even considering a outsourced IT company, ethics and integrity are just as important as the actual skills that person brings to the table. 

What To Look For In A Resume Before You Interview The Candidate

Before you interview a candidate, it's crucial to thoroughly examine their resume. Start with their employment history, looking for any unexplained gaps or rapid job changes, which could indicate a lack of commitment or adaptability.

Then, assess the relevance and verity of their skills and qualifications. If they claim proficiency in a wide range of unrelated skills, this might be a red flag.

Next, scrutinize the accomplishments section to ensure the achievements are quantified and not overly grandiose.

Lastly, verify their references and education. Make sure the institutions and employers listed are real and reputable. This will help ensure you're considering the right candidate for the job.

Questions To Ask and What You Hope To Learn From The Discussion

You're about to learn what questions to ask in order to discern the truth from an embellished resume.

These questions are designed to uncover specific examples of their achievements, understand their learning capabilities, and gauge their proficiency with certain tools or software. As someone who has interviewed hundreds of candidates for my own teams and assisted other teams in finding the right candidate, I believe that most people embellish their resumes, but few people are truly interested in deceiving a potential employer. As such, the following are a few questions that you can use to allow the candidate to showcase their skills as well as, more generally, their ability to place these skills in a context that illustrates how they will be able to apply them to help their new team achieve success.

Interview QuestionWhat You Hope to Reveal
Can you provide specific examples of your achievements in your previous role? Details and realism of accomplishments
What was the most challenging project you worked on, and how did you handle it? Problem-solving abilities and actual experience
Can you walk me through your day-to-day responsibilities in your last job? Depth and breadth of claimed experience
How did you achieve the results mentioned on your resume? Concrete methods and steps showing actual involvement
Who can we contact to verify the accomplishments listed on your resume? Verification of truth through references or contacts

Remember, while you are trying to identify the veracity of a candidate's skill set, this is not an inquisition. It is as important to see how they respond to your questions as it is their actual answers.

Understanding Team Accomishment vs Individual Achievements

Understanding the difference between a candidate's individual achievements and their contributions to team accomplishments is a key part of evaluating a resume. In a hiring process, you're not just selecting a set of skills, but also integrating someone into your team, your professional family. Hence, it's crucial to comprehend how they can enhance value, not solely on an individual level, but also as a team player.

Scrutinizing a resume offers clues about both individual and team accomplishments. Candidates often emphasize their personal achievements more, providing valuable insight into their skills, capabilities, and motivation. However, their contributions to team efforts mustn't be disregarded.

Encourage candidates to share teamwork experiences by asking specific questions. Request them to elaborate on their role in a team project that was successful. What was their contribution? How did they cooperate with others? How did they manage conflicts? Their responses will offer a more detailed understanding of their teamwork capabilities and their approach to group dynamics.


To wrap up, identifying exaggerations on resumes demands meticulous attention to detail. Remember, grasping the fine line between embellishment and deception is essential. 

Always examine resumes for signs of overstatement before the interview. Pose targeted questions to validate claims during the discussion.

Lastly, differentiate between individual achievements and team accomplishments. Keep these techniques in mind and you'll become skilled at identifying and addressing inflated resume claims, ensuring a more accurate understanding of your candidates.

Written by:
#MenWhoBlog MemberBlogging GuruThought Leader

James' passion for exploration and sense of duty to his community extends beyond himself. This means he is dedicated to providing a positive role model for other men and especially younger guys that need support so that they can thrive and be future positive contributors to society. This includes sharing wisdom, ideas, tips, and advice on subjects that all men should be familiar with, including: family travel, men's health, relationships, DIY advice for home and yard, car care, food, drinks, and technology. Additionally, he's a travel advisor and a leading men's travel influencer who has been featured in media ranging from New York Times to the Chicago Tribune, and LA Times. He's also been cited by LA Weekly "Top Travel Bloggers To Watch 2023" and featured by Muck Rack: "Top 10 Outdoor Journalists for 2022".

He and his wife Heather live in St Joseph, Michigan - across the lake from Chicago.