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Employment

Lies, Damn Lies and CVs 

Monday, October 10, 2022

How robust is your process for vetting job candidates?  We explore two cases that both highlight the levels candidates will go to in attempting to land a key role.  These cases involve a recent Supreme Court judgment and investigation by a north east school, both highlighting the problem of hiring someone who has created a résumé that’s more fiction than fact.

The first case we explore is R v Andrewes and relates to an individual who applied for and secured a position as CEO working for a hospice.  Andrewes started working for his employer in 2004 until his employment was terminated in 2015.  The role was secured due to the CV submitted with the application confirming he had a first degree, an essential requirement of the job as outlined in the specification along with an MBA.

References to management experience were also proven to be false or exaggerated.

Whilst he performed his role adequately the discrepancies in educational and managerial experience began to emerge leading to an investigation.

Mr Andrewes was prosecuted having accepted that he obtained a pecuniary advantage by deception and committed two counts of fraud.  His sentence was for two years along with a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

He argued that whilst he accepted the wrongdoing, he had in fact carried out his duties adequately and delivered value to his employer.

The Supreme Court stated that the hospice had sought to employ an honest candidate who had integrity and without the fiction of his CV he would not have secured the tenure.  He had therefore profited from his fraudulent act.

In calculating the sum due from the confiscation order the Supreme Court looked at the financial gap between actual earnings over the period of his tenure and the income he would more likely earn given his prior employment and honestly relayed qualifications. The difference was a considerable sum of £244k accrued over the 10+ year appointment as CEO. The recoverable amount settled at just over £96k given this was the amount noted as available from Mr Andrewes.

In a second case a teacher, Mr Elliott was appointed as head of religion and philosophy at Yarm School in Teesside.

The headline, in this case, is the fact Mr Elliott falsely claimed he had studied at Oxford University and had played professional rugby.

He was appointed in August 2018 but dismissed 14 months later after it was discovered he had not been honest in the presentation of his application for the role.

A teacher misconduct panel found 13 allegations proven and will be reviewing the appropriate measures to take.

These issues included:

False claims included suggestions that Mr Elliott:

  • Had studied medicine at Oxford University in the 1980s and played rugby for them in 1995
  • Was selected to play rugby against Australia in the UK when they toured in 1988
  • Was a director of rugby, and assistant director of sport at Churcher’s College Hampshire ( He was a PE teacher for the under 15’s)
  • Had been a “visiting scholar” at Cambridge University
  • Was a professional player for Wigan Warriors on an £80k contract

Mr Ruddle, chair of the investigation panel said the teacher acted “dishonestly” and “knew he had provided inaccurate information and had done so to enhance his qualifications and experience”, adding he had “undermined trust in the profession by lying on his employment applications”.

The panel are considering sanctions which could include a teaching ban and their recommendations will be put before Kit Malthouse, Secretary of State for Education.

Conducting Due Diligence

With the growing pressure on employers to fill key vacancies, there may be a temptation to skip vital steps in the recruitment process.  The above two examples, albeit not common do highlight the risks of overlooking a pragmatic and measured approach to vetting candidates.

  1. Be prepared for interviews by studying CVs and highlighting any areas where “drilling down” into greater detail would be useful.
  2. Where possible have more than one interviewer. Other participants could identify telling body language signals or decide to ask a more detailed follow-up question.
  3. Verify timelines of engagement and roles held. There can be a temptation for candidates to inflate their position by promoting themselves after they’ve left a role. From assistant to manager or manager to “head of” or director.
  4. At the interview, take time to question those aspects regarded as essential for the role. A qualification, particular skill or experience.
  5. Ensure you request more than one reference and be sure to make contact to verify key claims to authentic the presentation made by the candidate.
  6. Social media can provide a rich source of background data but should not be relied upon. Always advise that you will be using platforms as part of your vetting process. If there are queries that a search highlights, such as role title, length of tenure or location use it to ask questions. Whilst it is a temptation to look at more personal sites such as Facebook and Twitter be mindful of the need to be consistent and not make decisions that draw upon protected characteristics.
  7. If a query arises post interview don’t be afraid to contact the candidate and explore to satisfy any concerns.
  8. Offers and contracts of employment should be conditional on receiving satisfactory references and checks as appropriate to the role such as disclosures.
  9. Ensure that any probationary period is managed effectively to verify that the new employee is indeed matching expectations. If there are concerns address the promptly but appropriately. If they are not meeting the minimum standards expected offer the opportunity for explanations and work with them but don’t rely on excuses and probationary extensions to mask an employee’s performance.
  10. If the employee is discovered to have been dishonest in the application process but after two years of service, you will need to follow a disciplinary process an not move immediately to dismissal.

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