Loch Associates

Have you ever recruited someone who has lied on their CV or overstated their capability? If not, you have perhaps been lucky so far. A survey conducted by Checkster, a reference checking company, found that 78% of candidates admitted they had or would consider misrepresenting themselves to obtain a job. This could be done by blatantly lying or overstating their experience or skillset on their CVs or at interview. Once recruited the truth usually only comes out later when complaints are made, or concerns arise about their performance in the role. 

Recruiting staff is already an expensive and time-consuming process for employers, without the added risk of taking someone on who cannot do the job. So, what can employers do to avoid recruiting someone who is prepared to be dishonest about their ability to do the role or lie about their professional or academic qualifications, places of education or their previous experience? 

The good news is that there are a number of steps you can take to minimise that risk. Here are a few things you can do: 

• Make job offers conditional: Always make job offers subject to the employee meeting certain requirements. These requirements should include the business receiving two references which are satisfactory to the business, confirmation that the employee has the right to work in the UK and that they hold
the qualifications and experience they claim to have. Any condition which the candidate is required to meet should be explained in the offer letter so that it is clear what requirements the employee needs to satisfy. By doing this it means that if you discover when you are doing your checks the employee has lied or cannot satisfy one of the conditions of the job offer, you can then revoke the offer without being in breach of contract.

• Use screening checks: Carry out candidate screening checks and pre-employment background checks. Our HR consultants have noticed more employers are now asking us to carry out these checks for them, which is great, as these checks are a cost-effective way to verify that the information a candidate has provided is correct. Again, make any offer conditional on these checks being done. 

• Interview assessment exercises: Assessments or tests as part of the interview process can enable you to identify an employee who is misleading you about their skill set. This could involve technical tests to check an area of expertise which they claim to have. Alternatively, it can involve psychometric testing to provide objective assessments about their suitability for the role. 

• Trial shifts and on the job assessments: A trial shift can be a useful way to assess the candidate’s skills and knowledge as well as how they could fit into the team. Trial shifts are often used in the hospitality and construction sectors, but other employers are now recognising the benefit of work trials and asking candidates to work with them for, say, half a day to assess them on the job.

• Reference checking: I am surprised at how many employers still do not carry out reference checking and
also follow up to check their authenticity. Obtaining references is another opportunity to check they did work
for the employer, what position they held and how long for. Also, follow up with a phone call to the employer to check if they would employ them again. 

Once the employee has started employment, it’s important to monitor and manage the probation period effectively. Depending on the job role and seniority of the employee, probationary periods usually last for at least three months and usually for no longer than six months. During this time, you should have regular catch ups to monitor performance and progress. 

If an employee has overexaggerated their capability, then their performance will be lower than you expected, and it enables you to identify at an early stage if you have issues which could be addressed. Ultimately it may be necessary to consider dismissing the employee if their performance cannot be improved to a satisfactory level. This can be more easily achieved during the probation period when a shorter notice usually applies too. However, when the employee has worked continuously for two years, then life becomes more complicated because you have to ensure the decision is reasonable and that a fair process has been followed to avoid successful claims for unfair dismissal being made at that point. 

If you have established that an employee has lied or purposefully given false information on a job application or CV, then you may be able to dismiss them for gross misconduct and not pay any notice pay. You do still need to be careful though as we do encounter employees who continue to lie. They then offer up a further lie about the reason why they were dismissed, in order to bring discrimination or whistleblowing claims before they reach the two-year service point. Always seek specialist advice when you have uncovered someone who has lied or misled you before dismissing them for gross misconduct. 

At Loch Associates Group we are a one-stop-shop for people management services and our goal is to find solutions for you. Our HR consultants are experts in dealing with recruiting and onboarding the right employees, while ensuring you comply with your legal obligations. Meanwhile, our employment law solicitors are there for you if things don’t go to plan. 

Pam Loch, Employment Law Solicitor and Managing Director of Loch Associates Group

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