"Thank you very much for the help you have offered. When I first contacted you through email, I was really surprised at how quickly you got back to me. The position you found for me fits me perfectly well, and I like it very much. Throughout the process, you have been so helpful, liaising very professionally and efficiently. Thank again for all you have done."Underground Production Geologist, South Perth
The Lies that Job-Seekers Tell
(September 2010)A variety of studies estimate that (depending on which study you read) anywhere between 25-75% of job-seekers admit to either telling outright lies or else omitting/ bending the truth in order to secure a new job.
If those figures are representative of those who admit to lying, then we can be pretty sure that the actual figures are higher still.
Lies can be relatively minor (e.g., slight exaggeration of responsibilities and time spent doing certain tasks), or major and potentially very costly to a new business - e.g., claiming to possess qualifications/ certifications when that is not the case.
One example of this that we at Skye Recruitment have seen is when a worker claimed to be a qualified WHSO (Workplace Health and Safety Officer), and said that he had shown his qualifications to our client, a civil contracting company. Our client agreed that he had seen the certificate, but in actual fact he had not: the worker had given him so much paperwork to review that the boss had become confused and assumed that it contained the necessary certificate. It transpired that the worker was not qualified at all. The cost to a company of not having a qualified WHSO on site can run into millions of dollars in fines, and if this had not been picked up at an early stage then the situation could have been disastrous for the company in question.
Here are the key areas that you, as an employer, need to focus on when looking at a new hire:
Gaps in the CV
If a candidate has had a bad experience with a company he or she will often simply omit that company from their CV - particularly if they have only been at the company a matter of days or weeks.
It is important to ensure that all the dates line up on a CV, and that any gaps are accounted for. Always ask the candidate what they were doing between jobs, even if the gap seems small. If the dates on the CV are broad - e.g., "2009-2010" then ask for specifics. "Dec 2009 - Jan 2010" can mean that a candidate worked anywhere between 1 day and 2 months for a company - make sure you know which it is.
Finally, always ask the question: "Have you worked for any company that is not on your CV?"
Candidates will often feature a job title on their CV that does not accurately represent the role they have held for that duration of time. For example a Project Engineer may have worked for a company for 5 years before being promoted to a Project Manager role. The CV may simply say "Company X, May 2005 - present, Project Manager" - which clearly implies that they have 5 years experience as a manager.
Always ask at what level someone joined a company, and how long they have held their current job title.
To ensure you are hiring someone who can do the job they say they can, always ask for specific examples of how they have used that particular skill. It will quickly become apparent if the person does not have the depth or breadth of experience you are seeking.
Examples of this could include "Tell me about a time when you did XYZ." By asking open questions you will be able to gauge how much that person's skills and experience suit your needs, and if the candidate is unable to provide examples then that may indicate that they have not done all that they say they have.
These can easily be checked, simply by asking the candidate to bring all necessary certificates with them to an interview. Beware the candidate who has a tale of woe about why they cannot do so...
This is one of the more common areas in which candidates will stretch or bend the truth. When talking directly to a company candidates will either tend to over-estimate their current salary (in order to negotiate a higher wage), or else under-estimate their salary because they are afraid of scaring a potential employer off. This means that when you offer a salary you run the risk of paying over the odds for someone, or else putting an offer to someone that is too low, which they will immediately reject.
Companies who use recruitment agencies have an advantage here, as the agency can act as a go-between at the salary negotiation stage. A good agency will know what salaries you usually pay, how much the candidate earns, what salary they are looking for, and also what salary they are being offered by other companies. They can then advise you as to an appropriate level for that person, and negotiate with the candidate to maximise their likelihood of accepting your offer.
If you are not using an agency, then look at steps you could take to make the candidate feel comfortable about discussing salary openly with you. Consider getting an HR person to talk through those areas with the candidate, rather than the line manager. Also ensure you are aware of the types of salaries your competitors pay, and that you are up to date with the market rate for that level of role.
Reason for leaving
This can often be a sensitive area, and candidates sometimes give 'fluffy' answers that don't reveal the real reason as to why they left or are looking to leave their job. Common answers include "I've been there 5 years and it's time for a change," "I want career progression," or "I'm looking for a new challenge." None of these answers tell you anything about why someone would leave their company for a different one.
This is where you need to do some digging, and get to the bottom of the situation. If someone says it's time for a change - why? What change, specifically, are they after? What things are they looking for that their existing employer cannot provide? Why is that not possible with their current employer? Have they discussed it with them?
Here you often find the real reason. Perhaps they want a management role, but none will be available in the near future. Perhaps they don't get on with their boss. Perhaps they had a poor performance review, and have been put on warning. Perhaps they did not leave of their accord...
Beware the candidate who has quit a job without another one to go to, unless they have a very good reason for it. We often find in these cases that the candidate did not choose to leave the company. Similarly, beware the candidate who tells you that one of your major competitors (who you know is also hiring) let them go because of "lack of work".
Make sure you take references. Ask the referees for examples of things that candidate has done. Use open questions, and ask them to tell you about specific times when that person has excelled/ failed/ dealt with others. Look out for those times when a referee indicates something but doesn't want to reveal more. Watch out for when they give a short answer, or cover up after starting to say something that could indicate a problem with the candidate. Don't just stick to your template of questions - if something doesn't feel right then keep digging!