Raise your skepticism a few notches. Résumé fudging is on the rise again.
Fueling the trend: recent layoffs and the tanking economy. Applicants who feel more desperate tend to add that extra punch to their résumés.
Applicants lie most about their education, followed by their reasons for leaving past jobs, salary, job titles, scope of duties and criminal records.
Advice: For top prospects, scrutinize every detail on their résumés. Don't shrug off minor exaggerations, they tell a lot about character and level of effort. But restrict inquiries to job-related issues and don't probe into the background of any certain group, such as minorities, or you'll risk a lawsuit.
Learn how to Hire the Best with these 29 "must ask" interview questions. Learn more...
Think of a candidate's résumé as the advertisement for a car. Something is being sold, and you need to adopt a caveat emptor attitude before you jump in and drive away.
Put applicants on notice that you will verify information they provide and terminate them if they lie on the application or during the interview.
The application is one of several places to affirm your rights as an employer. When applicable, make clear there is no contractual relationship between the company and workers and also your right to terminate employees at will.
Case study: Caught in the act
In the late 1980s, the Port Authority of New York took out want ads soliciting résumés from electricians with experience using Sontag conductors. Nearly a third of the respondents said they had experience using Sontags.
The problem: There was no such thing as a Sontag conductor.
Here are 6 easy ways to smoke out résumé lies and exaggerations:
- Check for inconsistencies. Résumé-writing software can make anyone look good. Look for slip-ups in dates (such as overlapping start and stop dates) and contradictions between job titles and duties.
- Require all interviewees to fill out applications. Then look for inconsistencies between the résumé and the handwritten application.
- Test skills. If an applicant claims to have proficiency in a particular computer program or that she can work with a certain factory machine, do a skills check. To avoid charges of bias, test all applicants and ensure your test is business related and without any bias.
- Check references, then ask for more. Demand that applicants provide phone numbers for all past employers, and make the call. Also, ask for names of former supervisors, key vendors, etc. Always call the college admissions office to verify degrees and other claims.
- Probe 'self-owned business' claims. When applicants work for themselves, it's too easy for them to cook up experiences. Ask for details about their claims, including names and numbers of past clients.
- Don't confuse referrals with references. Do the same thorough check on candidates referred from co-workers or friends that you would on candidates from other sources.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells the story: Layoff events have reached their highest level in 7 years. Your hiring slots are valuable, and it's your job to fill them with the very best to help your organization through these tough times.
Now is the time to snag some excellent workers. Improve your odds of hiring the best, with these 29 must ask interview questions.
Hire the Best: 29 'Must Ask' Interview Questions
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