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How to Spot AI-Generated Lies on a Resume

Worker looks intently at a computer screen

A recent survey contains a disturbing statistic about the role that content-creating generative AI (GenAI) plays in the modern-day job hunt.

The survey, conducted in late 2023 by resume-writing service StandOut CV, found that nearly three-fourths of working adults in the U.S. (73 percent) would consider using artificial intelligence tools to embellish or lie on their resumes.

In light of that finding, how can HR professionals and hiring managers detect AI-aided embellishments or outright lies on job candidates’ resumes?

Probing Questions Might Help Reveal Lies

Joel Wolfe, founder and president of HiredSupport, a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based provider of outsourced customer service, said the best way to unearth potentially troublesome AI-generated content on a resume is to pose in-depth questions during an in-person, video or phone interview.

“Dissect the candidate’s resume and ask about their relevant experience and core responsibilities, as well as their key performance indicators while working for a company,” Wolfe said. “If the candidate doesn’t have answers or attempts to evade the question, that’s a telltale sign that they have been dishonest on their resume.”

In this situation, ask open-ended questions and pay close attention to a candidate’s responses, said Taylor Queen, SHRM-SCP, an Orlando, Fla.-based senior HR advisor at HR services provider Insperity. A candidate who misrepresents themselves through an AI-boosted resume may be unable to expand on details listed on their resume, he said, or they might provide vague or short answers in an attempt to mask embellished or false information.

Ahead of an interview, use software like GPTZero to spot dubious wording on a resume that might have been produced with help from AI, Wolfe advised.

Ask Candidates About Their Use of AI

A more direct tactic: Simply ask a candidate whether they relied on AI to craft their resume.

“I’d be more interested to see if they lie about using AI than if they went that route to make their resume more streamlined or professional looking,” said Allegra Highsmith, vice president of recruiting at the Exeter, N.H.-based Goodwin Recruiting.

“Ultimately, people aren’t great at writing resumes,” she added, “but I would advise any job seeker that using a genuine voice and language that tells a true story will always help you stand out in a crowd of other resumes more than something that is produced by extracting data from the sea of resumes that AI can pull from.”

It’s worth pointing out that a number of resume-building AI tools have popped up, including ones offered by Enhancv, Kickresume,, Rezi and Teal. And it’s no wonder that job seekers are flocking to GenAI. Research published in 2023 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed that job applicants who were randomly chosen to use AI for cleaning up spelling and grammar—as well as making recommended changes to tone, style and word usage—on their resumes were 8 percent more likely to be hired.

AI for Resumes Isn’t Necessarily ‘Nefarious’

Turning to AI to improve a resume doesn’t necessarily signal “nefarious intent,” Highsmith noted. Rather, it might mean a job candidate is adept at completing basic resume-building tasks such as developing an outline, choosing keywords or formatting the document, but the candidate then uses a tool—GenAI—to create the resume’s content itself.

In fact, nearly half of job seekers (46 percent) questioned for a 2023 survey by Resume Builder reported that they had enlisted the AI-powered ChatGPT chatbot to help write their resumes, cover letters or both.

Another survey, this one commissioned by visual communication platform Canva, came to nearly the same conclusion. On top of that, 90 percent of hiring managers responding to the survey indicated it was fine to use GenAI in job-application materials. And more than three-fourths of hiring managers (67 percent) were confident that they could recognize an AI-altered resume.

Fine Line Drawn Between Enhancement and Dishonesty

In defense of at least some AI-trusting job seekers, incorrect information on resumes may primarily be the fault of so-called “AI hallucinations.” Depending on prompts entered into ChatGPT or similar chatbots, an AI hallucination might “misrepresent key facts with great flourish,” as The Washington Post explained.

Still, experts said, candidates shouldn’t intentionally lean on AI—or their own language, for that matter—to tell lies or stretch the truth.

Highsmith suggested comparing a candidate’s resume to their LinkedIn profile to ferret out potential AI-enabled inconsistencies. Also, she said, check other resumes online to look for similar language that might have been cranked out with AI assistance.

“AI is a great tool to enhance a resume and if someone is not good at writing about their experience in a position,” said Angela Tait, an HR consultant and founder of Phoenix-based Tait Consulting LLC. “However, there is a fine line between utilizing AI for added value and using it to make up or be dishonest about certain experiences so that you stand out as a candidate.”


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