Dear Matthew: Should I confront my new employee about lying?
BD’s agony uncle on what to do when your new recruit is not as experienced as he claims
Question: We have just employed someone who I have found out is lying about his experience. I found this out because in the first two weeks, he clearly didn’t know some of the basics that I would expect. I then rang the practice where he said he had gained experience in this sector (it was not the most recent office on his CV) and they said not only had he been very junior, but he had not been a good worker.
Should I confront him?
Answer: It is hard making the choice about employees at interview — it’s a bit like going on a blind date and agreeing to a relationship straight away. I have removed the name of the firm where your employee said they had gained experience, but suffice to say it is very well known.
Perhaps architects rely too much on the assumed cachet of named practices. If I were being harsh, I would say you had to take some responsibility for being starstruck and not researching the person enough.
Of course, a big issue with references is that employers sometimes don’t take them up until the job is offered, so they are not really a part of the
decision-making process, and become fairly meaningless. Also, I get the feeling formal references are perhaps not enough because previous employers, for fear of reprisals, can sometimes pass over the negatives leaving you to guess any problems from the gaps.
A big issue with references is that employers don’t take them up until the job is offered
Besides, in your case I am not sure whether a current employer reference would have helped. Clearly gut reaction counts for a lot, and shouldn’t be underestimated. It sounds like you have had the misfortune of coming across someone who is good at blagging in an interview.
In terms of a confrontation, of course it really comes down to your contract with the employee, and any probationary period described. While it may be time-consuming to recruit again, there are a lot of good people out there so it doesn’t make sense to be lumbered with an employee you don’t trust.
However, if you chose to confront, make sure you have evidence that you have been misled, and prepare yourself for some rancor. Sometimes the most conniving can possess huge determination to fight their corner, and suddenly reveal hidden strengths as experts in their employment rights.
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?
To ask a question, share your views or read more advice, go to bdonline.co.uk/dearmatthew
Architect Matthew Turner of buildingonarchitecture.com has worked at a range of offices as well as being a client adviser, project manager and competition juror.