Why Applicants are Suddenly Being Insincere About Their Interests?

Infini Kimbrough
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Some job seekers are embellishing their resumes with fake interests and pastimes. Although it is not uncommon for applicants to be dishonest about work experience in order to attract employers, it is, however, a fairly new finding that applicants are suddenly lying about their interests. A study conducted by Babbel, a language learning app, found that out of over 1,000 Americans, 14% admitted to lying on their resume about hobbies they do not actually take interest in or participate in.

Why do candidates lie about their hobbies and interests?

The same reason applicants lie about their work experiences, skills, and abilities, is the same reason why they lie or exaggerate about their hobbies and interests. The main goal of every candidate is to find favor with hiring managers. Applicants understand that hobbies and interests make them more personable and maybe even more relatable to potential employers. For most jobs, work experience is enough. But for other opportunities, a candidate’s personality and the activities they engage in outside of work could help an employer determine if the candidate will fit in with the company culture. However, lying about said activities does way more harm than good. Here’s how to spot the lies and assess a candidate’s integrity.

Reach Out to Former Employers. Former employers can tell you a lot about a candidate. Don’t be afraid to ask former employers what they know about a candidate’s hobbies and interests and how those hobbies or interests impacted the candidate’s role in the workplace culture. You could ask verifying questions like “What made this candidate personable or relatable?” In order to determine if their former employer can verify the candidate’s claims, you can mention some of the things that were included on their resume and ask their former employer if they believe these things to be true.

Take a Look at the Candidate’s Online Presence. If a candidate is active on social media then they may or may not have profiles that are visible to the public. Some candidate’s prefer to keep their social media presence private for professional and personal reasons. Others however, may have public visibility which could be beneficial to employers who want to know more about a candidate’s hobbies and interests. A candidate’s social media should never be used to intrude on their personal life but it can be helpful to determine the truthfulness of some of the things that are mentioned on their resume. Social media is also an important asset to assess if the candidate will be able to abide by the company’s social media policies.

Conduct Background Checks and Contact References. Background checks are essential for everyone’s safety when hiring. Especially if the role involves children, or if the candidate claims to have an interest in working with children. References on the other hand will verify the candidate’s skills and abilities. If you want to know more about a candidate’s interests and hobbies, be intentional about requesting personal references and not just professional references. Personal references are much less formal and can be provided by friends, mentors, close family members, coworkers, etc., who may know the candidate on a personal level.

Assess the Candidate in an Interview. Even if you’re not suspicious of a candidate’s honesty, you should still be diligent about verifying their skills, interests, and abilities in a formal interview. Not only does the interview tell you more about what the candidate can do, it also gives the candidate an opportunity to share their authentic personality. Ask questions about their hobbies and why they enjoy them. Request anecdotal stories and assess whether or not they feel genuine. It’s much harder to pretend in person than on paper.

Although a candidate may possess the skills and work experience needed to do the job, lying about hobbies and interests is more of a concern for integrity than actual ability. Companies that value their cybersecurity, have a responsibility to hire honest candidates. It is important to verify if candidates are being honest on their resume because knowing that you can trust the candidate determines if they are dependable and capable of upholding the company’s core values.


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