Career: The Big Lie

The more stringent the requirements, the more candidates lie about their qualifications.

By Angela Pirisi, published on May 1, 2003 - last reviewed on April 10, 2009

Those little lies on people's resumes tend to grow during
important job interviews, say researchers at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst. "Basically, the more stringent the job
requirements, the more candidates lie about their qualifications," says
Brent Weiss, coauthor of a study on lying.

Weiss' study examined how often people lied in job interviews and
how personality influences the propensity to fib. Thirty-eight college
students applied for and were granted interviews for tutorial jobs that
didn't exist. The interview focused on their math or verbal skills. After
researchers came clean about the study, they asked students to review
their videotaped interviews and identify what they had lied about.

Overall, 84 percent admitted to lying at some point. People told
straight-out lies, such as, "I'm very good at math," when they had no
facility with arithmetic whatsoever.

Interestingly, the biggest liars were extroverts. Weiss believes
this is because extroverts are often eager to please others and win
approval. Extroverts also tend to be more energetic and animated. And,
Weiss confesses, they impressed him the most because "they told me what I
wanted to hear."