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Disaster Detour: How to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Employee

By Brian Hughes
Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Nearly half of all job applicants include inaccurate information on their resumes and a third flat-out lie. Here's how to avoid hiring them.

Nearly half of all job applicants include inaccurate information on their resumes, and a third flat-out lie about their experience or education, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

Stretching the truth about job responsibilities may seem harmless, but it’s not.

Consider these high-profile cases of resume lying: there’s the MIT dean never received any college degrees, despite claiming to have a bachelor’s and master’s degree; the one-time Wall Street analyst who claimed to have studied at MIT but never attended the school; the Notre Dame head football coach who claimed to be a ‘college football legend’ but had never played the game; and former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson who faked his resume– and was later forced to resign.

These resume lies aren’t just embarrassing for the people who made them; they’re also embarrassing for the companies who hired these individuals.

Related Article: Hiring Your First Employees: How to Go From Your Own Boss to The Boss

Today’s top hiring managers must continuously refine their screening, evaluation, and background checking procedures in order to enlist the best candidates. With the potential costs of making a bad hire estimated to be in the “thousands of dollars” by 41 percent of surveyed hiring managers and HR professionals, understanding how to use social media, advanced interviewing techniques, and background checking tools are essential components to be a successful business. Fortunately, the risk of making a hiring mistake can be minimized by using a multi-pronged approach involving social media, the interviewing process, identity validation, and old-fashioned person-to-person networking. Here’s how:

1. Check social media.

A candidate’s resume is designed to present their professional and academic achievements in the best possible light. For a fuller picture of a candidate’s personality, do a quick scan of their social media profiles. Yes, we all probably have one awkward or embarrassing photo hidden somewhere on Facebook that we’d rather forget about. The goal here isn’t to root out an embarrassing picture from college, but to gather a greater understanding of the candidate’s character.

Publicly shared blog posts and articles shed insight on a candidate’s communication skills and interests outside of the office that could bring additional value to your company. Connections to current and past colleagues made on social media can help validate stated information on a resume. Social accounts like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should never be used to replace traditional background screening tools, but they can help supplement the overall picture and provide additional insight into whether a candidate would be a good fit with your business’s workplace culture.

2. Ask the right questions

Even the most thoughtful and perceptive hiring managers can get stuck in a rut when it comes to interview questions. Your goal during the interview is two-fold: evaluate a candidate’s aptitude for a specific position and assess whether the candidate’s “soft skills” will be a good fit for your organization’s workplace culture. It’s not enough to walk into an interview with a pre-determined list of questions: you need to be flexible, stay present, and be ready to respond with follow-up questions based on a candidate’s answers.

A recent article on the real cost of hiring mistakes suggests that bad hiring decisions often occur because companies put “too much emphasis on good grades and a prestigious alma mater instead of what candidates can actually bring to an organization.” By using competency-based interviewing techniques, organizations can measure behavioral competencies to identify candidates who fit with their values and culture and are most likely to be successful.

3. Verify every applicant’s identity.

It’s scary but true: employment-related identification fraud is on the rise. Employment-related fraud represents 6 percent of all reported identity theft cases, according to recent data provided by the National Criminal Justice Reference System. With employment ID fraud, the job applicant uses another person’s social security number to prove eligibility to work legally for an employer. In most cases, these fraudulent individuals also provide additional falsified identification documents.

Currently, there are more than 600,000 employers throughout the U.S. using the E-Verify system, a program administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to dramatically reduce their risk of hiring a fraud. This process involves comparing the information provided by the applicant with government records to ensure that their Social Security number matches the name they put on their resume. Using the government’s e-verification system, in addition to I.D. verification guides or scanners to identify fraudulent identification documents, can help employers dramatically reduce their risk of exposure to employment ID fraud.

4. Find the six degrees of separation.

Never underestimate the value of old-fashioned reference checks and person-to-person communication. While every candidate will submit references, there’s no need to limit your conversations to only these people. Social media has made it increasingly easy to find shared connections between hiring managers and job applicants. In a previous article on Business.com, Kumar Arora of Aroridex, Ltd expanded on the value of reference checks when screening candidates.

“I’ve used the idea of “the six degrees of a new hire” quite a bit to screen possible job candidates. Asking former and current acquaintances about a working relationship with a person, without their prior knowledge that an email or LinkedIn InMail message is coming, can often give you a lot of information about someone’s habits and abilities.”

Related Article: Hiring the Hero: 9 Traits to Look For in Successful Candidates

Bottom Line

Successful hiring managers follow a multi-faceted approach to interviewing and applicant screening that validates the accuracy of information presented on a resume within the context of a candidate’s personality, character, and future performance potential. Past accomplishments are no guarantee for future success. A thorough interview process that emphasizes soft skills and workplace-fit is essential to ensuring you hire the right candidate for the job the first time – and avoid the crippling costs of a bad hire.

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