Don’t Be Te’o’d: Ensuring Your Startup Candidates Are Honest

By now, pretty much everyone has heard of the recent controversy surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s online girlfriend–who didn’t actually exist in the first place. No one wants to be “catfished”–not even startup founders. So when you’re looking for new tech talent, how can you ensure job candidates aren’t pulling your leg?

In the Internet age, it’s easy for people to lie. Resume fraud is common and can often be difficult for founders and others new to the hiring game to detect. Even if a resume is honest, you don’t want a candidate who is going to lie about their experiences or qualifications during the interview process.

Here are some steps your startup can take when it comes to ensuring new job candidates are honest:

Google, Google, Google. This is an important (albeit obvious) step that many new hiring managers are still skipping when it comes to hiring talent. Run a quick Web search of your candidates, and determine if their online profiles reflect conscientiousness and professionalism (to whatever degree your company sees appropriate). Does the candidate have a blog? A Twitter account? Do they use these outlets intelligently, even if they’re not primarily used for professional endeavors? A candidate’s online presence will often provide a lot of insight about how they view their work life.

Focus on ethical skills. Most employers make the mistake of hiring only for technical skills, not skills that relate to ethics. Add some key interview questions to your hiring process that are specific to certain situations you may see in your workplace on an average day. And don’t be afraid to ask something out-of-the-box. Questions that catch the candidate off guard can help you to see how they react under pressure.

Conduct multiple interviews. Multiple interviews with the same promising candidate give you a chance to cross-check their responses and ensure they’re consistent in their answers. And you don’t have to inconvenience the candidate by asking them to come into the office multiple times–use technology! A Skype or video interview should work fine.

Pay attention to body language. Is the candidate making eye contact during the interview? Do they squirm, fidget, or look at the floor when you ask certain questions? It’s important not to mistake nervousness with dishonesty, but a good candidate knows that proper body language is important to appear confident and collected.

When hiring new startup talent, no one wants to be Te’o’d. Companies often lose lots of money when they can’t retain candidates, and there are a slew of other problems that a dishonest candidate could cause. When assessing new hires for your startup, follow the steps above to ensure your candidates are honest.

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Written by:
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Find Heather on Google+.
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