dIstORTeD Information – Facebook News and Job Applicants

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg were in the news last week, responding to allegations that their news editors suppressed conservative news items/facts in favor of liberal news trends.  While the politicians and media outlets debate the merits of the case, it really isn’t a surprise to learn that media outlets screen information in order to produce the ‘desired’ effect.  It happens every day.

In the same vein, job applicants, on a daily basis, distort or misleadingly amplify information about themselves – all in the desire to ‘look good’ for a potential employer.  They do this on their resume, LinkedIn profile and in the job interviews.

Of course, EVERYONE wants to look good in the job-hiring process—but some people are more willing to bend the truth than others.

A recent posting on Monster.com1 showed that about half of employees ‘fake’ or embellish/lie on job applications.

Similarly, research reported by CareerBuilder shows that over 50% of employers have caught lies on resumes by applicants2.

Although this is bad in its own right, the impact of a bad hire on companies can be quite large.  According to www.hr.com, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the first year’s potential earnings3.

Is it possible to find out who is distorting information and what is being distorted?  While no method is completely foolproof, employers are encouraged to test/assess potential candidates in order to get a much more accurate ‘read’ on the employer’s background, skills, strengths and weaknesses.  Experienced industrial psychologists who use standardized tests can gauge an applicant’s candor much more accurately than the typical job supervisor, and have instruments to help them determine ‘faking’ or ‘impression management.’

The standardized tests measure a variety of traits/skills – including candor.  The tests will ask a series of questions to measure socially-undesirable but highly-probable behaviors.  For example:

  • Have you ever broken the law?
  • Have you ever cheated in a game?
  • Have you ever made someone mad?
  • Have you ever told a lie?

Nearly all of us have done nearly all of these types of things.  The person who doesn’t admit to ANY of them is likely fudging the truth.  As a potential employer, wouldn’t you like to know if your applicant is giving you dIstORTeD Information?

Dan Whitenack


1. http://hiring.monster.ca/hr/hr-best-practices/recruiting-hiring-advice/screening-job-candidates/an-applicant-lies-on-their-resume.aspx

2. http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=8%2F7%2F2014&id=pr837&ed=12%2F31%2F2014

3. http://www.hr.com/en/app/blog/2012/03/who-are-you-really-hiring-10-shocking-hr-statistic_h09y2ol0.html#sthash.fe0GCWNY.dpuf