Human Resources Update

Due diligence key to hiring the right employees

If you are responsible for hiring an employee, here are a few issues you may want to consider before making a job offer. Sometimes, if an applicant looks too good on paper, it’s because he or she is.

But first, can you believe it? What you read on the internet, on the resume and on the application may not be true. If you are a fan of fiction, you may find what the applicant has put in writing quite entertaining. The percentage of fraud — up to 40 percent — is real, so beware of what you read.

Applicants do have the right to tell their story and to look good on paper. This is a common practice called “puffing.” Understanding the difference between fabrication and puffing is critical. So what are they?

Degree that is not earned

This is a classic fabrication and the most common. It includes people listing schools they attended on their application or resume but not receiving a degree. People with a few credits might decide to award themselves a degree.

Best yet are those who claim degrees from schools they never attended.

Fake degrees

“Degree mills” are like “puppy mills,” so beware of what may seem to be authentic but is not. Anyone with a credit card can buy a degree off the internet. Oh, yes, the school might sound familiar, but it might not exist.

Screen closely by adding diploma and degree verification to your background check list. Charm can fool the best of interviewers.

Everybody is a supervisor

Are you curious what applicants claim to have “supervised” when describing their previous job duties? Everyone wants to be promoted; maybe that is why they are looking for a new employer.

Make sure they did indeed supervise or manage a department or whatever they are claiming.

Dates, dates and more dates

These should be accurate to reflect the months and years of previous employment. Often these will be fudged to avoid explaining gaps in employment. Gaps are OK if they are for legitimate reasons.

Previous salary

How much were you making in your last job? Do you really care? What you should care about is how much their talent and qualifications fit the job and what you are paying for that position. Asking for previous salary could be a risky question.

Some people will pad their previous salary to show they are worth more. On the other end, good applicants might be lost if you assume they will not be satisfied accepting a lower salary.

Salary is only third on the list of what keeps an employee with your company.

Criminal records

Background checks and verifying information is a must. The correct wording needs to be on your employment application. A criminal background does not necessarily bar someone from employment.


Above all, if a person lies or the information provided on an application turns out to be fraudulent, this is certainly a valid reason to consider not hiring. Cover your company and prevent future people problems with the properly worded application and relevant disclosure statements. A completed and signed application should be a condition of being considered for employment. Employment applications can be paper or electronic.

Know how to interview

It is not difficult to spot the frauds. There is no perfect method for interviewing, but if you ask behavior-based or open-ended interview questions that prevent textbook answers, you will usually get better results.

Above all, make sure you perform your due diligence

Verify that the information the applicant provided is factual. Take the time to ensure you are getting the best qualified person in your applicant pool for the position. Don’t hire a “warm body” because the hiring process is time-consuming.

Hiring an employee is much like a marriage. When the job applicant signs the offer letter, you have just said “I do!” Now you have the fun of moving past the dating stage and figuring out how to live with the person.

While you hire a person for his or her skills, knowledge and abilities, you also hire the personal behaviors that come with those skills.

If you have missed the boat and not hired the right person the first time, use this advice and spend enough energy in the pre-employment process to make sure you get the right person next time.

This column provides information about the law designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice — the application of law to an individual’s specific circum-stances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Barbara Cruz Stallone, SPHR, is the owner of Stallone & Associates LLC. She is a 35-plus-year human resource professional. She was a partner with the Human Resource Umbrella LLC for 16 years before selling that company, and is a member of AGC. Suggestions for future articles or questions may be emailed to