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Fraudulent candidates

Detecting and preventing fraudulent candidates 

Remote work options and virtual hiring have introduced employers to global talent pools. Unfortunately, this opportunity has also increased the possibility of fraudulent candidates

LinkedIn estimates that 15-20% of candidates are dishonest in the way they present themselves. Additional alarming statistics include: 

  • There has been a 92% increase in candidate fraud since the pandemic. 
  • 21% of candidates engage in cheating in a controlled testing environment. 
  • 52% of executives believe AI fraud detection is a best practice for hiring and preventing candidate fraud. 

Hiring managers have learned the hard way that hiring a candidate based on false information can prove costly – up to 30% of the worker’s first year salary, so it’s crucial for stakeholders in the hiring process to watch for red flags on resumes and during job interviews. 

Fraudulent candidates: Do you really know who you’re hiring? 

Types of resume fraud 

Resume inflation comes in many forms, including but not limited to: 

  • Falsifying company experience: Changing company names to reflect certain industry experience or listing projects performed at a company but not by the applicant. 
  • Inaccurate employment dates: Stretching the timespan an employee was actually with an organization. 
  • Exaggerating skills or experience: Including skills the applicant does not possess or technology with which the applicant lacks experience. 
  • Inflating titles: Providing a more senior title than the applicant actually held or altering a title to reflect a component of the applicant’s role that may be appealing to potential employers. 
  • Educational discrepancies: Falsifying academic degrees or professional certifications or including degrees from unknown institutions. 

Detecting fraudulent candidates isn’t easy, but it is possible thanks partly to the very things that enable it: technology and human capability. 

Identifying resume fraud 

There are several methods to identify potential resume fraud and verify whether the information is accurate. 

Warning signs of resume inflation include: 

  • Conflicting resumes: The candidate has applied multiple times at an organization, but each of the applicant’s resumes contains differing information about job titles, employment dates, etc. 
  • Multiple ATS profiles: The candidate has multiple profiles in an Applicant Tracking System with different contact details or variations in the applicant’s name. 
  • LinkedIn conflicts: The candidate does not have a LinkedIn profile, or the information on the candidate’s profile does not align with their resume. 

Approaches for verifying resume information include: 

  • Check resumes on file: If the applicant has multiple resumes on file, compare them for previous employers, employment dates and job titles. 
  • Cross check external resources: You can check resumes against other external sources such as job boards and LinkedIn.  
  • Check references: For references that include employer email addresses (not their personal email addresses), review them on LinkedIn or through corporate websites. 
  • Perform informal checks within the industry: Individuals may not currently work with the candidate, but they may be in the same network and have knowledge of their skills and experiences. 
  • Review references provided on LinkedIn: Did the reference work at the same place at the same time as the candidate? 
  • Ask for an email from a work account: If the candidate states they are currently employed, ask for an email from their work account. 
  • Confirm employment with HR: If there are lingering suspicions about a candidate’s experience, contact the organization’s human resources staff for verification. 
  • Ask deep questions: Ask the candidate focused questions about the depth of skills and experience they provided on their resume; gauge whether their answers align with the information presented. 
  • Review other workers from the same organization: Is there consistency in themes of projects, technologies and timeframes? 
  • Formal education: If proof of formal education is required, request copies of certifications, degrees and or transcripts.  

Don’t assume that incorrect details are necessarily fraudulent. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes additional follow-up is needed. 

Addressing potential resume fraud 

When discrepancies arise, confront them directly. Following are examples of how to handle resume areas where fraud — and human error — are common: 

  • Conflicting employment dates: Incorrect employment dates or gaps in work history may result from typos or a simple memory mistake; ask the applicant about dates that seem wrong or lapses in employment. 
  • Suspicious experience: Ask about specific employment or projects that seem dubious or conflict between the candidate’s resume and LinkedIn profile. 
  • Incomplete education or certifications: If you aren’t able to verify academic degrees or certifications, ask the candidate to qualify any disparities. 
  • Job titles: Ask for a verifiable job title from HR during employment verification; if the title conflicts with that provided by the applicant, ask the candidate why. 

Minor errors that can be explained as honest mistakes — such as employment duration — can be addressed, corrected and moved past. But outright misrepresentation or pervasive embellishment should disqualify a candidate from moving forward. 

Interview fraud 

Video job interviews became standard during the pandemic, and, like remote and hybrid work, they’re here to stay. 

But video interviews are another area ripe for fraudulent behavior by job seekers. With many jobs operated entirely remotely, some applicants have seized on the opportunity to misrepresent themselves in video interviews to gain desirable jobs for which they’re not qualified. 

Validating candidates during video interviews 

Candidates may use several deceitful tactics in video interviews, including having another — and more qualified — individual stand in for them. Here are some cautionary signs to be aware of during virtual job interviews

  • No camera: The candidate’s camera may be off, or the candidate may claim they don’t have a video camera or that it’s broken; this could indicate the candidate is unprepared or is not who they claim to be. 
  • No audio: The candidate may appear on camera, but they are using another device to call into the interview. 
  • Lack of eye contact: If the candidate’s camera is on, but they aren’t holding eye contact or seem to be looking elsewhere after every question, they may not be confident about their qualifications, or they may be searching for answers from a prepared “cheat sheet” or using another device to look up details online. 
  • Typing during the interview: If interviewers see or hear the candidate typing in the midst of an interview, the candidate may be taking notes about the prospective job; the applicant may also be seeking answers for questions they can’t answer effectively. 
  • Awkward body language: Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, and it’s to be expected that candidates may seem nervous. Watch for excessive uneasiness or animated excitement that can signal that a candidate is not who they say they are. 
  • Awkward verbal language: As with body language, candidates may stumble or stammer in their speech during job interviews due to anxiety; however, candidates who overcompensate with their speech or use terms that don’t align with their purported experience or the job at hand may not be as advertised. 

If the candidate can’t appear onscreen, ask to reschedule the interview when they can access a computer with a working camera. If you suspect the candidate is chatting with someone during the interview to gain information, ask them to share their screen. If you believe the person you’re talking to is not the person who applied, ask them to show you an ID for verification. 


The onboarding process is also a critical step when engaging talent, and candidates must continue to be vetted until the very end of the acquisition process. Conducting a basic background check is useful, but they don’t necessarily confirm identity. When onboarding candidates: 

  • Address: Are you shipping any equipment to an address other than what was provided on resume or supporting documents? 
  • Start dates: Does the candidate keep shifting start dates? In combination with other red flags, this could indicate fraudulent activity. It may mean that the individual who actually applied has other commitments and there is  miscommunication about project dates with the individual you interviewed.
  • Validation: Is the candidate unable to validate identification or banking information? Can they not provide a photo I.D with their full name? 

Organizations around the globe are witnessing an increase in fraudulent candidates – with associated impacts on risk and cyber security. To protect themselves from fraudulent candidates, hiring managers can leverage recruitment technology that facilitates candidate screening and interviews to guarantee skill and fit quickly, automated, and securely. 

You can Access free A.I. screening tests here

The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook

 Over the past two years, we have captured hard won lessons learned across thousands of worker hiring engagements by our team of professional recruiters and distilled them into practical ideas that you can start using immediately. The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook is a step-by-step guide to help source, screen, select, onboard and retain talent in the New World of Work.

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