When I was 13 I took my first trip to New York City. What made a true impression on me was not the city but rather the people. Every corner, every monument, every street had its own unique set of vendors; they sold everything from clothes to paintings to knick-knacks. Some even sold designer items: perfume, handbags, watches – I mean you name it.

Most of the items were knockoffs; however, some of the bags looked just like the real thing. It was definitely a culture shock for a Missouri girl.

You might be wondering why I am sharing this memory with you. I recently ran across an article from Forbes about a scam involving fake handbags.  These handbags are not your $20 New York knockoffs though.  They are being marketed online as the real deal and selling for thousands of dollars. In response to the scam, Forbes released 10 tips for spotting a fake handbag. As a fan of designer bags (Michael Kors is my guilty pleasure) I took a look. While reading the article, I realized some of the tips could be useful to hiring managers.

Why Hiring Managers Should be Concerned with Spotting a Fake?

As you can see this number has consistently grown since 2001 and will only continue to grow. So how do you spot a phony: whether it is a fake resume, false information or an applicant who is lying through their teeth in an interview?

Here are my tips inspired by Forbes:

1. Does the whole thing hang together?  “Don’t be fooled by the presence of a hang tag. Anyone who can counterfeit a handbag can fake that, too.”

Today any ‘official’ document can be counterfeited including: resumes, diplomas and professional certificates. In fact, just like handbags, there is a whole marketplace for fake documents. Don’t be fooled by a fake document, always check references and credentials.

2. Are there sloppy spots? “Examine the bag carefully for this sign of a possible counterfeit. In this example, there is back and forth stitching under the tab.”

If someone is falsifying information to land a job, then they are probably cutting corners while doing it. If something looks ‘sloppy’ further examine the situation.

3. Does the pattern match? “Look closely at the matching of the pattern in the outside seams. A company like Louis Vuitton, which values its logo, wouldn’t divide the letters in a seam.”

Like the pattern of a perfect handbag, an employee’s pattern should match up. Does the degree match the past experience? Are there any unexplained gaps on the resume? Did the interview reflect what you read on the resume? These are things to watch for when hiring. If something doesn’t match up, then something probably is up.

4. Does anything raise suspicion? “This bag has leather trim, but there’s coloring outside the dark pink border on the blossom.”

Hiring the perfect employee is a comprehensive process. This includes an employer’s gut feeling. Now don’t hire solely on gut but if something just doesn’t feel right, look into it. If you are suspicious about something you are probably right.

Following the advice above is a great start, but a proper background check is really the only way to tell if your applicants are stretching the truth. As I said in the last tip be comprehensive – bring many factors into your hiring experience.

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