A new member of staff has started at the company who we hired because of some impressive experience on his CV. Three months into his job and it has quickly become apparent that this person lied on their CV. He cannot carry out some of the star skills he claimed to have and we are now having to train him in those very skills. This leaves me, his boss, and the company in a bit of a quandary. Do we sack him for lying or ask him to own up to his lie, wipe the slate clean and start again? MD, Abu Dhabi
Hello there MD, is this really a quandary? While I’m not sure what position you hold, facts are facts. Non-performance is the issue that we are dealing with, and to be frank, I have to say non-performance on both sides of the fence.
1. Regarding the applicant
If a summary on paper indicates a certain skill level yet evidence in reality suggests otherwise, a gap is clear. This is now established, and should always be done before looking for reasons to place blame. A workplace’s function is to produce and if production is not achieved, then it’s clear there’s a gap. I must clarify that I am reading your letter as if no skill level exists, and not that he’s not working “your way”. If the latter was the case, this then is a matter of training, providing standards and culturising him to “your way”.
The next step is to decide how to handle this current situation, and now you’ll be shocked that my first suggestion is to look at the interviewer and not the job-holder.
2. Regarding the interviewer
Before any action I strongly suggest you don’t find yourself in the situation of a legal battle for unfair dismissal. A general rule that I use to both tweak my own conscience as well as cover all bases is to ask myself: “What is it that I may not have established, explored or gained evidence of in the interview that has allowed this situation to exist?”
Anyone can stretch the truth in an interview, and more so when the interviewer is not evidence-based. If there were no behavioural questions digging down to the third or fourth level of the question, then evidence was likely not secured. While it is an ethical issue for a candidate to represent the highest level of truth, it can be argued it is the interviewer’s role to be a spy and collect evidence and data thoroughly. If this was not done in a watertight fashion, it would be wise to proceed with caution, not only for legal reasons but because it’s the right thing to do.
Now it’s time to move forward in a fully-informed fashion. There are so many variables here, yet if I felt there were gaps from both sides, I would re-visit the interview with the person, highlight the difference and ask why they feel it’s different. From there I would take my decision, remembering that the probationary period provides freedom with final employment decisions.
Always self-check before blaming others – you may be surprised what you find.
Debbie Nicol, managing director of Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture.Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Workplace Doctor’s advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague