Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

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Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby Dave Jensen » Sat Feb 27, 2016 1:53 pm

We had a thread which went off the rails recently, about lying and so forth. Interesting reading, but you'll see immediately why we closed that thread. Instead of "advocating for lying" let's keep this thread to the topic of "How much lying is really out there?"

I can tell you one thing -- while I have no scientific studies to refer to, my own impromptu survey of a few of my hiring managers and my own personal experience out there says that there's a great deal more over the last few years than ever before.

While we won't touch the subject of dropping degrees and so forth from a CV, let's just focus on the classical items, the "made up" degree, the "made up" accomplishments, and so on. Of those who see CV's on a regular basis, is there anything you do to catch these, or do you believe that some of these make their way through your company system and become hires? How can society get back to a "play it straight" mentality on the part of both candidates and companies? It's especially difficult in an era with high-profile catches from US Government and other countries, where people are caught fabricating at the highest levels. Or where TV shows ("Suits") make it out like it's no big deal . . . Is it only going to get worse?

For candidates, how far can you stretch the truth on accomplishments before it actually goes too far? Would love to have a dialog about this without getting into advocating for lying (please). Let's keep it to how prevalent it is, and how far things can be pushed before they become ethically irresponsible.

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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby PG » Sat Feb 27, 2016 3:25 pm

I would say that it is rare but it does happen. The most extreme case I know of is several years ago when a person a short time after employment was discovered to have lied about everything, not even her name was correct. I assume that noone actually called for references in that case.

We have seen a couple of cases during the last years which has lead to strengthened procedures within the company I work for. We had at least one case in which a person lied about having a work permit in this country which is a risk for the company. Nowdays we check this with authorities for everyone that is hired. We also always call for references and usually we call several contacts for different previous positions.
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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby JM » Sat Feb 27, 2016 4:46 pm

Not a hiring manager, but my thought is that this behavior is an unfortunate response to how competitive things have become. A somewhat separate issue is about appearances, like inflating or lying about one's job title to impress others. That would be bad news if one's present or potential employers were to find out.

As a candidate, my rule is I assume anything I claim is subject to verification. Even if it was not verified before employment began, the employer will assume I can do something if I claimed I had such experience, so effectively at some point it will be verified.

I don't know what the solution is. As I mentioned above, I fear that this has become a systemic problem in reaction to competition. I don't mean to sound as though I am against competition, because I think it is in many cases beneficial. Maybe I should say that people are internalizing unrealistic expectations and are 'reaching' in consequence.

Not everyone can be a superstar, but everyone should contribute the best they are able to. I don't know that this message is communicated enough anymore.
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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby Dick Woodward » Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:21 pm

This has been going on for years. When I was at Pharmacia in the 1980s, we were purchased by a company run by a fellow who was Sweden's Businessman of the Year. The deal fell apart when it was discovered that his PhD was completely fraudulent.

More recently, (early 2000s) a recruiter brought me the resume of a woman from big pharma who the recruiter thought might be a fit with our start-up. I noticed that she had received her PhD from an institution that I had never heard of while working for big pharma. This is not that unusual - some universities will allow that for your research - but she had gotten it while working for 2 different companies. This struck me as odd, so I googled the university. It turned out to be a diploma mill. I consider a degree from a phony university to be equivalent to lying.

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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby D.X. » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:01 am

Hi Dave,

To me, most of the lying part on the side of interviewing candidates, based on my experiences, is generally an over-exaggeration of their accomplishments.

Yes, there was an accomplishment, but the candidates tend to over exaggerate thier role, mainly from what I've seen, trying to take the entire responsibility/or merits of an accomplishment in the form of being the lead, when in reality they played in minor support function.

I had a candidate do this more recently on Panel I was on for another hiring manager. I didn't see the CV until like 3 days before so I was not part of the CV selection process here. The candidate was not Aware of my relationship to their former hiring manager in the company they were coming from - so I was able to raise this exaggeration up during hte interview. Without going into Details, there was a red face, and well suffice to stay the candidate was not hired. But I have say, it was a beautiful Story the candidate told, basically they spoke to the role of my contact who was the lead/owner/conceptulizer of the Project. Also the Job title was inflated - they left out the "Junior" in front of "Product Manager".

There was another example where one of my reports (an entry Level Position) was trying to do the same to me - basically canabilize my work and exaggerate the role they played.

And the other is ommission of something (like the above), rarer I think. I'm guilty here, but in my case, my omissions are related to people whom I know in a company before Hand, and those are only the ones that positively advocate for me...i know I know..but sometimes I like to go it on my own without activating a strong network contact, more recently to my near demise (complicated Story here). I like going with my own merit sometimes.

So how to get back to Play it strait, Number 1, it very competitive out there and companies generally want top-Talent. They don't see the Gem in the making sometimes as reflected by reluctance to Train some rough edges - they want someone on boarded as fast as possible. So candidates do feel pressured.

On the other Hand, candidates should fully understand that its in their best interest to stand on the ground of merit (as I alluded to) being truthful, and positioning oneself within the Framework of one's experiences. This is such a small world, one never know who knows who as I've obviously illustrated.

As a candidate which sometimes I am, I really found that strecthing the truth doesn't help. I state the facts and Position them in to the Job Position at Hand and help with my Interviewers see the portability of my experiences. If I lead a Project, I say I led a Project. If I supported a Project, then I supported it. I am clear on what I did and what I learned, and where I can port that knowledge and experience to the Job at Hand.

Best to walk way transparent than not, today are in a super connected world, it will come to get you at somepoint if one lies.

I have heard of degree additions but have not personally seen it.

Hope it helps,


had to do some Edits, Computer Says "no" often
Last edited by D.X. on Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby Dave Walker » Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:43 am

As a former job-seeker, the tactic this reminds me of is "stretching" one's abilities to meet the job criteria, in response to the lack of training provided in today's (entry level) life sciences careers. This was thoughtfully discussed here before I believe...The trend points to hiring those who already have experience versus those who lack experience but can be quickly trained.

As a result, it behooves the job applicant not to out-and-out lie, but to puff up whatever part of their experience will look reassuring. This is both easier and more convincing than proving one can be quickly trained.

In the end, this replaces an old set of resume cliches with new ones: instead of "hard working," "go-getter," "quick study," etc., I think we'll see "managed graduate seminar" becoming bona fide Management Experience for any position.
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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby Steven Z. » Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:50 am ... ncequences

Here’s a list of businessmen who’ve inflated their resumes to gain advantage in the corporate world.

Scott Thompson, CEO of Yahoo!
Ronald Zarrella, CEO of Bausch & Lomb
David Edmondson, CEO of RadioShack
Jack Grubman, executive analyst at Salomon Smith Barney
Jeffrey Papows, president of IBM’s Lotus
Albert Dunlap, president of Nitec
Kenneth Lonchar, CFO of Veritas Software

These are just the most high profile examples of the ones dumb enough to get caught by lying about something easily verified.
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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby RSD » Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:33 pm

For the PhD scientist level candidates that we have been interviewing there is almost no way to fake the degree. First, it would be very difficult to have the experience and perspective required for the position without having gone through the PhD/postdoc route. Second, pharma/biotech is a small world and we always check references, so if someone didn't work where they said they did, or they were not a good employee while there, we will probably find out.

I think the exaggeration and embellishment of resumes/CVs is more of a problem. It seems there is a growing trend to inflate even common accomplishments and duties with unnecessary and often meaningless business-speak (or more accurately, BS). Autoclaving lab supplies becomes "directed and monitored sterility of essential equipment for preclinical studies." I think the BS rises proportionately with the seniority of the position. I get suspicious if I can't understand what the persons actual job duties entailed.
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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby D.X. » Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:15 am

RSD wrote:
I think the BS rises proportionately with the seniority of the position. I get suspicious if I can't understand what the persons actual job duties entailed.

I smiled when I read this, though slightly off Topic, I've found as I've climbed in seniority, there has been a direct relationship to the BS I use to describe my roles - i.e BS = Business Speak *ahem* so much so that if I use layman Terms, its sounds like the real BS. Its related to the less number of hard, palpable Projects one is reponsible for delivering and more focus on mid to Long term planning/direction setting I think. One starts delivering Strategy plans and processes etc. Next Thing you know your CV also starts to become a list of either Teams your are leading or various cross-functional boards you're apart of with the Teams/boards objectives as the accomplishments. The talking Points then come up in the interview. At least this is my experience.

Oh well..Overall though for those making the transitions or early starge career, avoid Business speak, just be clear and to the Point.

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Re: Hiring Managers: Just how prevalent is lying?

Postby Nate W. » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:04 pm

Here is a story from college football about why you don't lie on a resume: ... -lies.html

I think embellishment about accomplishments is a significant problem in the life sciences because the competition is so fierce. Still there is no excuse for lying. It makes it more difficult for everyone else trying to be honest.

Another contributing factor is that employers can be unrealistic about their hiring expectations when they write these ads. You know what I mean: 20 requirements, PhD/MBA, 10 years industry experience, and lives in Tim Buck Too. So what does a candidate do when they don't have all the requirements, they are tempted to lie.

It is interesting to note that between 5-30% of all life scientists have either engaged or witnessed scientific misconduct (see Retraction Watch website). Most of the reasons for this conduct have to due with the increased competition for grants and high impact publications. So, I suspect the incidence of resume lying is quite significant.
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