Before hiring a promising job candidate, make sure he is as good in real life as on paper. An interview is the key time to verify claims on rÈsumÈs.
Any information that's false or misrepresents the candidate will often prove to be a stumbling block for him during the interview. That's why it's vital for you to do your homework, carefully reviewing the person's rÈsumÈ so you'll be prepared to zero in on these weaknesses. Here are five key factors to probe during interviews:
1. Academic credentials. Phrase some questions to determine whether the candidate really attended the schools listed. "Is Robert Drew still teaching Accounting 101 at All State U?" If you made up the name and the person says, "Sure. In fact, he was my professor last term," you know you have a liar on your hands.
2. Time gaps. Ask specifically about intervals during which the applicant was apparently doing nothing.
3. Claims of supervisory duties. Probe deeper when a person's rÈsumÈ says he has managed or supervised others: "How many people did you manage at Surfboard Inc.?" Don't be satisfied with the number. "When you say supervise, what did your duties involve? Did you assign work, evaluate the employees and conduct?" A true manager would have done all that, and more.
4. Claims of saving the company money, time. Verify that the claims aren't exaggerated. Comments like "made staffing change to cut clerical time" may mean he trimmed a half-hour off his secretary's lunch hour. Follow up on such rÈsumÈ claims with questions like, "How exactly were those savings realized?"
Also, probe any claim that follows the words "reorganized," "restructured" or "implemented." Why? "Reorganizing" the department may mean the person moved the files or the furniture.
5. Lateral moves. Analyze job descriptions to see if applicants made a lateral move. If so, ask why. "You moved from Acme Electronics to Adelphi Electronics in what seems to be the same position. Why did you decide to make that move?"
Keep your questions on track by drafting a script beforehand. This also ensures you ask the same questions of each applicant. When taking notes on the interview, remember that those scribbles could end up as Exhibit A if your hiring practices are challenged in court.