Previously, in Check that Fake CV – Part III…
A beautifully crafted, shamelessly fabricated CV has caught the employer’s eye, and its owner has been shortlisted for an interview. Our Pulitzer Prize nominee proves to be multi-talented, pulling off an Oscar-winning performance in the interview. The selection committee is salivating at the gem they think they’ve found, oblivious to the fact that this “gem” is nothing more than cheap plastic destined to break within weeks after the appointment has been finalised.
The employer has done everything right: reviewed the position, advertised the post, sifted through completed Job Application Forms, endured endless rounds of interminable interviews. But neither the CV nor its creator has yet been subjected to the acid test: a comprehensive verification process.
The verification process
In an era gone by, the short-listed candidates for a job would have been known to the manager since they were in diapers. The references on the CV would have included the principal, the pastor and the parents, all of whom, when contacted, could be relied on for brutally honest information about the applicant. Times have changed somewhat. Not only does the employer have to deal with fiction authors. Many a candidate also appears to be an actor in the making if the interview performance is anything to go by. Accordingly, no self-respecting employer should employ a new staff member without first having done some form of background screening.
Some examples of verification checks include:
- Reference checks: contact the references supplied and confirm the information provided by the applicant. It helps to have a set of Reference Check questions available. Of course, in today’s jaded world, sometimes it’s more than just the qualifications and experience that have been fabricated. It’s the references as well. So an overly-cautious employer may well wish to verify these references. Such as using the internet to check their contact details, and phoning landline numbers instead of the cellphone numbers supplied by the applicant.
- Confirmation of previous experience: contact previous employers to confirm the applicant’s employment history. Again, the overly-cautious employer may wish to use independently obtained contact details for this. Oh, Google has so many useful qualities!
- Google: Talking of Google, why not try Googling the applicant’s name? You might come across some interesting and, more importantly, pertinent information about your short-listed candidate.
- Social Media: And on the subject of the internet, many an applicant bears his/her soul on a variety of social media platforms. What the employer should be interested in is finding out whether the applicant is, indeed, who s/he says s/he is. And, of course, the applicant’s track-record when it comes to making mention of his/her previous employers can prove very enlightening.
- Home Affairs: work permits, identity documents and driver’s licences are all verifiable.
- Professional Association membership: does the applicant allege that s/he is a member of a professional association? Contact the association and find out.
- Qualifications: Get a certified copy of any qualifications that the applicant asserts that s/he has earned – and then check them! An employer can contact the institutions directly, or appoint a third party to verify the information.
- Credit history: If the job position requires the employee to deal with finances, such as collecting or banking money, then hiring someone with a dismal credit record may not be ideal. If the incumbent’s credit record is relevant to the job, then conducting a credit check with the credit bureau would be a prudent approach. The applicant’s signed consent will be required, and a fee will be payable.
- Criminal history: Conduct a criminal history check by approaching the SAPS (armed with the applicant’s signed consent) or appointing a third party to do the check for you.
- Task-based checks: sometimes it is possible to test the applicant’s ability by setting tasks for the applicant to complete. Such as (dependent on the duties required in the job) basic computer literacy skills, typing skills, telephonic and communication skills etc.
With some of the checks, it is generally better for the employer to conduct them. For example, the manager or supervisor should ideally pick up the phone personally and establish a one-on-one contact with the references and past employers, thereby gaining a better insight into the applicant’s skills and experience. Other checks can be more challenging and time-consuming for the employer to complete personally, in which event outsourcing the background screening and verification to a third party may prove preferable. There are scores of companies willing to do this (for a fee, of course).
Conducting a background screening before appointing a new employee can be a lengthy process, and doing it properly will involve the payment of fees. But the time and money invested in completing the verification properly fades into insignificance when compared the monumental migraine the employer will endure should it transpire that the wrong person was appointed.
- The job position is relevant and the duties are defined: check
- The vacant post is advertised: check
- Applicants complete a standard Job Application Form: check
- Applications are sorted and the hopefuls shortlisted: check
- Interviews are conducted: check
- References prove to be solid and verification checks are successfully conducted: check
- The lucky incumbent is identified: check
All that remains is for the company to make an offer of employment in accordance with Company Procedures.
But that’s another story for another day.
Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.