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Friday25 July 2014

Dear Matthew: Should I confront my new employee about lying?

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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?

Matthew Turner

Matthew Turner

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?

Email dearmatthew@ubm.com
To ask a question, share your views or read more advice, go to bdonline.co.uk/dearmatthew

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I must add; this is very common place in the industry. Candidates blaggining their way through the application and interview process, only then to quickly learn CAD software on the job or at home, suggesting they are adequte for the position when they are clearly not. Employers need to be smarter and request that a test is taken at interview stage. Don't be fooled by big names on CVs.

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  • robert hodges

    Act now but with care. If there has been deceit at this stage there is considerable risk of such in the future.
    I cannot understand why there is any question of what to do.

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  • zecks_marquise

    Surely your practice must have a standard probationary period for all new employees. Give the person a bit more time, and when it comes to the end of their period, conduct a thorough review. They have either performed sufficiently or not. Pretty black and white.

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