Weekly dilemma: CV lies

We recently hired a finance director, but after three months it is clear that he is not up to the job. When we checked his CV, discrepancies came to light. The reference from his previous employer had been written by someone who had already left. And although our finance director described himself as a “finance manager for a major IT company”, we learned that he was one of three account supervisors for a company with only 40 staff. We have also been tipped off that he does not have the degree he claims to have, and has no management experience – despite what he said at interview. What can we do?

If it is any comfort, your experience is not unique. As he has less than 12 months’ service, you could dismiss him, with or without payment in lieu of notice. You will only be justified in withholding notice pay if you are sure that he is in fundamental breach of contract.

If the deceit is serious enough to amount to a breach of mutual trust and confidence, then summary dismissal would arguably be justified. He may argue that lying on his CV is not misconduct during his employment, but I doubt this would receive much sympathy. A more cautious approach would be to follow the statutory disciplinary and dismissal procedure and give him the opportunity to explain himself. But be aware that he may be guilty of criminal conduct: lying on a CV has been found to amount to the offence of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception.

For the future, matters such as experience, salary, qualifications, age, work history and job title are easy to verify. Check qualifications with the awarding establishment, and check references with the organisations that wrote them. Experience is harder to verify, but ask technical questions at interview to test the candidate’s knowledge. You could also have an ‘off the record’ chat with their previous employer – they may provide greater detail over the phone than they would in writing.

Emphasise that a truthful application is vital, and make any job offer conditional upon receipt of satisfactory references and background checks. Be sure to get the candidate’s consent to carry out the checks. And consider employing a background screening company – when you think of the recruitment costs and the embarrassment factor, it might be worth the money.

By Sarah Rushton, employment solicitor, Forsters

Comments are closed.