How to Identify Fake Candidates, Double Dippers, and Other Bad Fits in Your Hiring Process

by iSphere on October 5, 2021 in Blog, Hiring Challenges

What’s wrong with a little embellishment? Maybe it’s not a big deal when you spice up a story or add a couple of inches to the largemouth bass you caught, but it’s a big deal when candidates overstate their credentials or experience. Unfortunately, plenty of candidates appear to have no problems with exaggeration throughout their job search.

A survey conducted by the background check company Checkster found that 77.6% of respondents misrepresented themselves to a moderate or greater level throughout the hiring process. Some fibs are benign enough (34.50% claim to live at a residence other than their real address), but some lies deprive your business of skills and know-how that you need to grow.

Unless you have the tenacity and keen senses of a detective to spot these misrepresentations, you might make a damaging hire. The good news is that we’re not dealing with Danny Ocean levels of scheming. Most misrepresentations are easy enough to spot – if you have the time and awareness to do so. In our experience, the question of how to identify fake candidates in recruitment depends on technical knowledge and practice of the following techniques at each step of the process.

Spotting Fraud on a Resume

This is a matter of reviewing resumes with a fine-toothed comb. On the surface, everything might appear above board, but there are subtle ways in which candidates might try to game the system and concoct more experience than they have. Spotting these embellishments takes some familiarity with the types of tricks that are most used.

A good starting point is a candidate’s years of experience with a specific technology. For example, if someone claims to have 11 years of experience with the Elixir programming language, it’s likely that they are inflating their credentials (unless they’re Elixir creator José Valim or a handful of early adopters). Sometimes, a typo is just a typo, but a pattern of implausible timelines and years of experience should set off warning signs.

A mind-blowing instance of fakery we’re seeing is the use of entirely fake but plausible companies in candidates’ work histories. It’s not a new strategy, but the level of sophistication has grown. The trend was highlighted back in 2015 when Business Insider investigated a company that provided references for a fee, “running” over 200 fake companies that existed only to offer phony work histories and referrals. Though that operation is no longer active, there are plenty of companies willing to reinforce lies for a fee.

How to go about identifying fake candidates in your recruitment practices requires some exposure to the false fronts. We comb through enough resumes to recognize the trend often, so we can help identify fake candidates early. However, the gold standard is still going to be a background check.

Using Checks and Technical Assessments

Conducting checks or technical assessments can be an all-around cost-effective hiring measure. The ability to dig into the employment history, background, or even technical aptitude of your IT candidates for verifiable proof of their suitability removes an element of guessing from the equation. However, there is a tradeoff to the thoroughness of this screening process.

In the current market, candidates won’t wait through an extended review process. They are receiving proactive offers from a swarm of IT recruiters looking to fill open jobs with top technical talent. Since the average hiring process takes 45 days, there’s a good chance that some of the best candidates will fall off during drawn out check and assessment processes.

That’s why it’s important to strike a balance between verifying candidates’ credentials and moving quickly. That can involve working with a background check solutions provider that is known for both speed and accuracy, only running checks when liability outweighs the risk of losing a candidate or working with a staffing partner that can conduct some screening of their own.

Catching People Trying to Work Two Jobs

The pandemic has popularized a relatively new way for candidates to misrepresent themselves: working two full-time jobs simultaneously. With the ability to work from home, candidates do not need to quit an old permanent position to begin a new one, if they are brazen and clever enough to streamline their current workload. Apparently, enough Americans believe they are, since an e-conolight survey of remote-work habits indicated that 54.7% of respondents confessed to working for another company while on the clock for their primary employer.

This is a tough bit of fraud to catch, but instances of double dipping can be uncovered in a few unconventional ways. One is to follow the candidate or their employer on LinkedIn and other social media profiles. Some companies will make announcements about new hires, anniversaries, and other milestones that could indicate that a candidate stayed with their old job or added another. Also, completing background checks can typically uncover any unadvertised parts of a candidate’s employment history – including current jobs they’re hiding from you.

Spotting Fraud During the Interview

Video interviewing has upgraded an old deception strategy. In the past, underqualified candidates out-of-state or abroad would hire expert surrogates to answer questions over the phone in their stead. Now, that strategy is modified to take advantage of Zoom and other video conferencing tools.

Often, your fake candidate will receive responses from someone offscreen feeding them answers. They fake technical difficulties to hide their face during the interview or create artificial lag with websites like, which allows people to “simulate slow-downs, freeze frames and lags on calls.” It’s a dream for people feeling Zoom fatigue, but a nightmare for managers trying to find their next hire. In this way, an underexperienced candidate can give believable answers with the interviewer remaining none the wiser.

The countermeasure to this strategy is to make sure you can always see the candidate’s face during the interview. Unless they have a tiny, low-profile earpiece, underqualified candidates will find it difficult to fake responses when they are required to interview with a strong video signal. If your candidate is experiencing technical difficulties, reschedule the interview. There can be legitimate instances of wi-fi outages or bad reception, but rescheduling can weed out fake candidates faster.

Working with an IT Staffing Partner

Though strategies like these are essential to uprooting underqualified candidates trying to grow into your pipeline, they’re not one-off tasks you can accomplish in an afternoon. You’re looking at full-time commitments. Rather than trying to manage these duties with your other responsibilities, you can work with the right IT staffing solution and achieve the same (if not better) results.

For example, the iSphere team takes the time to get to know the candidates, their histories, and their technical skillsets. Since we’ve been around the block a time or two, our recruiters know how to identify fake candidates in recruitment steps, from sourcing and screening to interviewing. We put in the time and effort to make sure that candidates who embellish their experience and history don’t move forward in our search process, preventing you from getting hooked by someone’s fishy story.

Want to work with an IT staffing partner that knows how to identify fake candidates in recruitment process? Reach out to the iSphere team. We’ve been around the block and know how to spot misrepresentation.


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