Think about this: More than 50 percent of job applicants lie in their résumés, according to the Society of Human Resource Managers. Those inaccuracies could be white lies such as listing volunteer positions never held, or major whoppers, such as lying about former jobs or certifications never earned. And most of the time the people who pad their résumés are the people you’d least expect.
At the most fundamental level, a thorough reference check protects you against some applicants’ tendency to embellish details about their past employment. It also helps to forecast whether the applicant will turn out to be a productive member of the team. Here are two tips to help you get the most from the reference-check process:
1. Include a waiver
One of the best ways to avoid hiring those who aren’t as qualified as they claim to be, or have falsified their résumé in other ways, is to have job applicants sign a waiver that attests to the accuracy of the information they provide and authorizes you to seek relevant background information. This consent form should also give references permission to discuss the person’s background with you. Reluctance or refusal to sign a consent form should raise a red flag. Recommendation: Because state laws vary, consult your attorney to determine your rights and obligations before beginning the background screening of applicants.
2. Ask the right questions
When calling past employers, explain the applicant has signed a consent form authorizing your inquiry and offer to send a photocopy. Then consider asking such questions as:
> Is the person reliable and trustworthy?
> Did he or she come to work on time?
> Were there disciplinary issues?
> Did the person’s job title and responsibilities match what was written on his or her résumé?
> Did this person get along well with co-workers? With managers? With clients or customers?
> What was the person’s starting and ending salary?
In particular, confirm the reason the person said they left their last job. This is the subject where job applicants frequently become most creative. One of the best questions to ask is whether the previous employer would rehire the person. Unspoken cues like a hesitation before answering or an obvious nervous reaction can be very revealing. Multiple reference checks can confirm or dispel your suspicions.
With increasing résumé exaggeration and fabrication, background checks have become a necessity. By investing the time and money required to perform this task, veterinarians and hospital managers can avoid future problems.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is the author of seven best-selling books, including 101 Secrets of a High Performance Veterinary Practice and 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices.