When Your Prime Recruiting Candidate Lies to You

So what happens when your prime candidate lies to you?  I am not talking about some modest little fibs here  but some outright whoppers that when detected leave you twisting in the wind.   As a recruiter, this doesn't bode well for your relationships with different clients.   Most prefer to know the goods are genuine authentic, not some counterfeit designer

But in this difficult  economy with a highly competitive job market, some employment candidates might be selling you a bill of goods as they try to sell themselves.

In this particular case a gentleman who was up for a position as CEO for a major company claimed three college degrees, a bachelor's degree and two master's degree.   He also claimed he had a start up company that he turned into a success and ultimately sold for substantial money  to one of the larger financial concerns in the world.   He claimed he was now working for that concern.    He claimed he was working to keep busy as he no longer needed the money.

This was a man who at first blush seemed the ideal recruiting prospect.   Three degrees and the initiator of a successful business that was turned into gold when he sold it to an international concern.   This was enough of a lure that an international company couldn't wait to see him.  The recruiter arranged for an interview overseas with the employer picking up the plane fare and all expenses.   Upon interviewing, the employment candidate was deemed the number one candidate for the position.

The recruiter was then asked to conduct a background check on the candidate.   The foreign company asked that the recruiter check out all criminal and civil records and verify all degrees as well as employment with this very prestigious international concern.    As the recruiter initiated the background checks, he did a little searching on his own.   He interviewed references who seemed a bit vague with one sounding, oddly, much like the employment candidate himself.   The recruiter then did a media search and could not find his candidate listed prominently.  There were a few listings here and there but nothing of the scope and caliber that would accompany such a successful business growth and subsequent sale to a major concern.  Not much or nothing.

The recruiter was growing nervous.  Perhaps the candidate was not all that he could be.  In fact, he may have been a long way from it.  However, the first two degrees check out.   But in the case of the third degree, an executive Masters Degree, the respective university could find no records of graduation or even attendance.  Wasn't there.  Didn't go.

As for the small business that went big time.  After much research, it appeared as if the small business stayed very small.  No sale to the big concern.  In fact, when asked to verify if the candidate was working there, the prestigious financial entity responded that he was not working there and they had no record of his ever working there.   They were totally unfamiliar with his name.

Meanwhile, the recruiter contacted an old supervisor who advised the recruiter to best  drop it and head for the hills where his candidate was concerned.  Not a very auspicious moment.

To top it off there was a judgement against the candidate for a modest sum, something anyone harboring a serious concerned for his business reputation would have settled rather than allowing it to go to court where the plaintiff was ordered the judgment.

At the end of the day, a recruiting prospect with modest accomplishments took a shot and aimed for the big brass ring.  He faked a key degree, falsified the success of a business, and claimed high level  employment that didn't exist.

So now the recruiter is embarrassed and his client, the employer, is very upset.  They are considering legal claims against the former top prospect.   They feel deceived and rightfully so.  And out of pocket for a plane ticket and three nights at a five star hotel in one of the major cities of the world.   Not good.

At the end,when the background checking report was finished, the recruiter asked me how best to avoid this.   It's a tough call.  On one hand, if the employer is not reimbursing you for the background check, you don't want to be out of pocket for the money.  So you want to wait and let your candidate interview, make sure he is in the running before conducting the background check.

But on the other, you don't want to embarrass yourself and possibly incur the wrath of your client.  You don't want to present to him a dud, a poser.   Good clients, clients with money, are too hard to find these days.In most cases, the client and candidate will be in the same city or the same country.  There will be phone interviews and other thresholds, before it gets down to the more serious business.  But then in this case the client was overseas and required an expenditure for the client to interview the candidate.

In such a case conduct the background check early. Spend the few bucks to satisfy yourself that your candidate isn't lying about the key elements in his resume.   At the very least talk to who you know are reputable associates of the candidate.  If there are no reputable associates, then maybe the reason is that there are no reputable associates.  At that point, run the background checks.  It may well help avoid the larger surprises.



Views: 319

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 20, 2011 at 9:44am

We must trust people but from time to time they will lie....No one is at fault. I do not have time or the money to run checks on all people I set up for interviews.



Not sure how long it toook you to write this article but just tell the client and start looking for anither candidate. It is the nature of the business some times.

Comment by Derek Wirgau on September 20, 2011 at 10:52am

Maybe I have become jaded through my work and recruiting years. Whenever I hear one of these "big stories" from a candidate, I find myself many times doing an internet search while I am still on the phone or immediately after we talk. Depending on what I find, I will talk with the candidate to get "further details" about the "big storie". Most of the time it checks out and adds details for our clients that make them comfortable. The remainder I either get the candidate to tone down the claim and still submit or I recommend that this is not the best fit and move on.

Is this skepticism? Not sure. I just find that in our society we are very prone to believe the "big lie" because we don't think anyone would evey lay out such a whopper. So, I do my best to double check when possible.

Comment by Gordon Basichis on September 20, 2011 at 11:05am
Unfortunately for our client, his client, the employer, isn't particularly sanguine about this experience.  This being a CEO search, it's pretty evident as to why.   Increasingly, as an employment screening service, we are seeing candidates "embellish" their resumes.   Some of it is to be expected, but the major increase is with their education.  We have a wall now of some lovely copies of bogus diplomas the candidates supplied as a last ditch effort to remain in contention, after the school denied their graduate status.


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