5 years ago
October 22, 2019

Is a Sales Candidate Exaggerating During an Interview? 5 Signs to Look For and How to React.

Sales candidates are willing to do what it takes to get the job. They are willing to work hard and put in the effort required to excel in this highly…

Rhys Metler

Sales candidates are willing to do what it takes to get the job. They are willing to work hard and put in the effort required to excel in this highly competitive industry. For some people, this means exaggerating during the job interview process. They will stretch the truth or tell small lies to prop themselves up and tell you what you want to hear. They will say what they need to in order to present themselves as the best candidate for the job.

This adds another layer to the hiring process for sales organizations. It’s already challenging enough trying to find the best candidate. But, trying to find the best candidate and trying to decipher who is being honest and who’s exaggerating or outright lying makes it even more difficult.

What Do Candidates Exaggerate About?

According to Toronto sales recruiters, what a candidate chooses to exaggerate about depends on their shortcomings. In other words, they could exaggerate about almost anything:

  • Employment history
  • Gaps in employment
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Qualifications
  • Reasons for leaving previous positions

Toronto sales headhunters explain how to tell if a job candidate is lying

Signs a Candidate Is Exaggerating

Fortunately for hiring managers and recruiters, there are a variety of signs that indicate a candidate is exaggerating the truth during a job interview. If you notice the following, it may be a sign the candidate is not being completely truthful with you:

1. Vague Answers

It takes time to develop specific and detailed questions. If a candidate is not able to provide a specific or related answer to the question, it’s a sign they are either not prepared or they are not being fully honest with you. This is particularly the case when asking candidates about past roles, responsibilities, and timelines. If you suspect the candidate is embellishing, ask them to elaborate on their answer and provide more specific details.

2. Differences Between Their Resume and Their Interview

Closely reviewing a candidate’s resume is important to not only get familiar with the candidate, but it can also help you identify questions you want to ask in regard to their skills, experience and work history. Something may pop up that seems suspicious or doesn’t add up. Their resume also gives you something to reference as a candidate is answering questions during the interview. If they exaggerate or deviate too much from what it is on their resume, it could be a sign they are not telling the truth.

3. They Can’t Answer Simple Questions About Their Skills

Candidates are most likely to lie about their skills. It’s common for candidates to exaggerate their skill set in order to meet the job qualifications listed on the job ad. An easy way to tell if they are being truthful about their skills is to ask them about any skills in question. Ask them to speak about a certain skill directly and how they used it in previous roles.

You can also identify the exaggeration of skills through testing during the recruiting process. A simple skills test will tell you if the candidate is qualified and being truthful.

4. They Say “We” Too Much

Working on a project as part of a team and leading a project is very different. But, many candidates tend to exaggerate their role, involvement, and responsibilities in previous jobs. Pay close attention to when candidates use “we” instead of “I” and speak about group or team efforts. This could be a sign they are stretching the truth about their experience and responsibilities.

5. They Repeat Things

When people lie and exaggerate they are more likely to repeat words and phrases. They do this because they do not have a lot of skills and experience in the area they are being questioned about. They cannot provide a lot of depth or context related to the question being asked.

What to Do If You Think a Candidate Is Exaggerating

It’s not easy to tell if a candidate is exaggerating. They could be stretching the truth or even withholding certain information to make themselves appear to be a better candidate.

So, what do you do if you suspect a candidate is not telling the whole truth? The answer is rather simple. Don’t do anything. Try being completely silent.

Its commonplace for the interviewer to immediately start speaking and move on to the next question once a candidate stops talking. By being completely silent, for 3 to 5 seconds, it will make the candidate feel uncomfortable and start to speak again. You’ll get more information to make a more informed decision about whether or not the candidate is truthful.

More Sales Recruiting Advice From Toronto Sales Recruiters

Get more informative and actionable sales recruiting advice from our expert Toronto sales headhunters. Check out these insightful blogs packed with tips:

5 Ways to Separate the Sales Candidate Contenders From the Pretenders

Recruit the Best Sales Reps Using These Interview Questions

Should You Hire an Overqualified Sales Candidate? 5 Things to Consider

Why Hiring Mistakes in Sales Are Even More Costly Than You Think

How to Close a Star Candidate: 5 Tips From a Sales Recruiter

New to Sales?! 4 Sales Recruiter Tips and Tricks to Get You Started

5 Ways Sales Recruiting Agencies Help Companies Hire Great Employees


SalesForce Search is a Toronto sales recruiting company which specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.