Enterprise Software

TechRepublic members speak out on investigating job candidates

Many TechRepublic members don't like people checking on their salary histories—while others defend the need for full disclosure. Check out this diversity of opinion, along with some tales of creative misrepresentation.

Does a prospective employer have the right to investigate a candidate's current salary? How important is it to verify those certs featured on an applicant's resume?

Many TechRepublic members are angered that some human resources people routinely investigate the salary histories of job applicants. Several of our readers recently told us that they see this as an invasion of privacy. However, others defend the need to obtain complete and reliable information on a candidate before making an offer. We received lots of mail on this subject after TechRepublic’s recent article “Truth or fiction? How to investigate a job applicant .” That article stirred a discussion about hiring practices and the honesty of job applicants.

What’s it worth to you, buddy?
“I was taken aback by the premise of the story that a prospective employer should ever get the prior salary of an applicant,” wrote rwz, an IT employer who questions the competency of an interviewer who needs that kind of information. “I think TechRepublic owes it to its readers to tell them they do not [have to] and should not release any prior salary information.”

Matt Jefferson, ACS Government Solutions Group, questioned the value of knowing an applicant's past salary.

“I believe that a company should offer you the salary they think you are worth, regardless of past salary,” he wrote.

According to jo.davis, “What is relevant is the responsibilities and duties of the prospective position and your ability to perform effectively and without annoying the daylights out of your prospective coworkers.”

In amessage titled "There's (sadly) a pragmatic reason . . .," mount_diablo said he thinks asking for salaries is part of an attempt to low-ball the salary of the perspective employee.“Many managers are blatantly out to get the best person for the lowest price . . . . I find it sad that I can't offer more for the truly competent applicants.”

Having seen this issue from both sides, Robert Graham agreed that companies are often trying to spend as little on salary as possible. In his opinion, this often adds to increased employee turnover that is unnecessary.

“The problem with paying the minimum salary is that these are the same companies who cut annual salary increases to the lowest they can,” Graham wrote. “This means the employee drops further from the standard.”
We regularly feature reader comments in our articles. Your real-world experience is invaluable to your peers—and your insights help make TechRepublic a responsive and dynamic resource for IT professionals. So don't be shy:
  • If you’d like TechRepublic to cover a particular topic, send us an e-mail .
  • If you want to respond to this article, post a comment below.
  • If you want to start your own discussion about an IT issue, visit the forums and start typing.
Whatever method you choose, we want to hear from you.
On the flip side, jbenfield sees the salary question as being a matter of simply finding someone the company can afford. “The only valid reason to ask for previous salary is to make sure you are not interviewing someone you cannot afford. This can be very embarrassing for the prospective employee and the employer. To avoid this situation, I make sure all prospective employees know my salary range, and if I can't afford them, I expect them to tell me.”

Lies, lies, damnable lies
You might not like being investigated as a job candidate, but if you're the one doing the hiring, you'll find it necessary to check out job applicants. That’s what several managers told us. A few IT pros said they have been shocked at the lies they’ve heard from potential employees. They defend the practice of looking into someone’s background. Several members described situations where they caught job applicants misrepresenting themselves.

Susanne Ruano, a network administrator, told us about a promising job candidate she interviewed who seemed very knowledgeable about the job.

"When I called him back for a second interview, I was planning on leaving a message for him at home. He answered the phone (this was a Tuesday around 10:00 A.M.),” she wrote. Although he told her he was sick, he showed no signs of illness when he came in for his second interview.

The candidate told her about all sorts of “cool” projects he was working on, but after he left, Ruano called his employer, posing as a vendor, and asked for him. She was told he hadn’t been employed at the company for the past two weeks.

“He was my top candidate,” she wrote. “Actually, if he had been honest and up-front with me that he was currently unemployed, I probably would have hired him.”

Peggy Herring, a recruiter for Sentinel Technologies, Inc., described interviewing a candidate for a field technician’s position. The candidate said he was employed when he wasn’t and also said he had a college degree when he didn’t.

“Ironically, the candidate did not even require more than a high school degree for the position and probably would have been hired otherwise,” she wrote.

What’s my line?
Karen Bussell, a project communications coordinator, said she had a favorite “line” from when she worked as a technical recruiter.

A candidate claimed he was an expert with Microsoft Excel, using it primarily for spell checking. “I wonder how many recruiters (who don't normally use Excel) would have fallen for that one?”

Member js hired someone who had the certification he needed for a job, and the new hire’s former boss backed him up when the applicant said he had a year of experience as an MSCE.

“Weeks after I hired this person, I discovered that his knowledge of Windows NT was nil. He couldn't even install NT or create a boot diskette. I'm 100 percent sure that his old boss unloaded him on me,” js wrote. “Also, certifications mean nothing, especially Microsoft's. Make a hands-on test on the tasks that the person you are hiring will be performing. Don't believe anything that can't be proven.”
Did one of these stories remind you of particularly horrible hiring experience? How do you determine whether a candidate is being totally honest? Post your comments below or send us a note.
Does a prospective employer have the right to investigate a candidate's current salary? How important is it to verify those certs featured on an applicant's resume?

Many TechRepublic members are angered that some human resources people routinely investigate the salary histories of job applicants. Several of our readers recently told us that they see this as an invasion of privacy. However, others defend the need to obtain complete and reliable information on a candidate before making an offer. We received lots of mail on this subject after TechRepublic’s recent article “Truth or fiction? How to investigate a job applicant .” That article stirred a discussion about hiring practices and the honesty of job applicants.

What’s it worth to you, buddy?
“I was taken aback by the premise of the story that a prospective employer should ever get the prior salary of an applicant,” wrote rwz, an IT employer who questions the competency of an interviewer who needs that kind of information. “I think TechRepublic owes it to its readers to tell them they do not [have to] and should not release any prior salary information.”

Matt Jefferson, ACS Government Solutions Group, questioned the value of knowing an applicant's past salary.

“I believe that a company should offer you the salary they think you are worth, regardless of past salary,” he wrote.

According to jo.davis, “What is relevant is the responsibilities and duties of the prospective position and your ability to perform effectively and without annoying the daylights out of your prospective coworkers.”

In amessage titled "There's (sadly) a pragmatic reason . . .," mount_diablo said he thinks asking for salaries is part of an attempt to low-ball the salary of the perspective employee.“Many managers are blatantly out to get the best person for the lowest price . . . . I find it sad that I can't offer more for the truly competent applicants.”

Having seen this issue from both sides, Robert Graham agreed that companies are often trying to spend as little on salary as possible. In his opinion, this often adds to increased employee turnover that is unnecessary.

“The problem with paying the minimum salary is that these are the same companies who cut annual salary increases to the lowest they can,” Graham wrote. “This means the employee drops further from the standard.”
We regularly feature reader comments in our articles. Your real-world experience is invaluable to your peers—and your insights help make TechRepublic a responsive and dynamic resource for IT professionals. So don't be shy:
  • If you’d like TechRepublic to cover a particular topic, send us an e-mail .
  • If you want to respond to this article, post a comment below.
  • If you want to start your own discussion about an IT issue, visit the forums and start typing.
Whatever method you choose, we want to hear from you.
On the flip side, jbenfield sees the salary question as being a matter of simply finding someone the company can afford. “The only valid reason to ask for previous salary is to make sure you are not interviewing someone you cannot afford. This can be very embarrassing for the prospective employee and the employer. To avoid this situation, I make sure all prospective employees know my salary range, and if I can't afford them, I expect them to tell me.”

Lies, lies, damnable lies
You might not like being investigated as a job candidate, but if you're the one doing the hiring, you'll find it necessary to check out job applicants. That’s what several managers told us. A few IT pros said they have been shocked at the lies they’ve heard from potential employees. They defend the practice of looking into someone’s background. Several members described situations where they caught job applicants misrepresenting themselves.

Susanne Ruano, a network administrator, told us about a promising job candidate she interviewed who seemed very knowledgeable about the job.

"When I called him back for a second interview, I was planning on leaving a message for him at home. He answered the phone (this was a Tuesday around 10:00 A.M.),” she wrote. Although he told her he was sick, he showed no signs of illness when he came in for his second interview.

The candidate told her about all sorts of “cool” projects he was working on, but after he left, Ruano called his employer, posing as a vendor, and asked for him. She was told he hadn’t been employed at the company for the past two weeks.

“He was my top candidate,” she wrote. “Actually, if he had been honest and up-front with me that he was currently unemployed, I probably would have hired him.”

Peggy Herring, a recruiter for Sentinel Technologies, Inc., described interviewing a candidate for a field technician’s position. The candidate said he was employed when he wasn’t and also said he had a college degree when he didn’t.

“Ironically, the candidate did not even require more than a high school degree for the position and probably would have been hired otherwise,” she wrote.

What’s my line?
Karen Bussell, a project communications coordinator, said she had a favorite “line” from when she worked as a technical recruiter.

A candidate claimed he was an expert with Microsoft Excel, using it primarily for spell checking. “I wonder how many recruiters (who don't normally use Excel) would have fallen for that one?”

Member js hired someone who had the certification he needed for a job, and the new hire’s former boss backed him up when the applicant said he had a year of experience as an MSCE.

“Weeks after I hired this person, I discovered that his knowledge of Windows NT was nil. He couldn't even install NT or create a boot diskette. I'm 100 percent sure that his old boss unloaded him on me,” js wrote. “Also, certifications mean nothing, especially Microsoft's. Make a hands-on test on the tasks that the person you are hiring will be performing. Don't believe anything that can't be proven.”
Did one of these stories remind you of particularly horrible hiring experience? How do you determine whether a candidate is being totally honest? Post your comments below or send us a note.
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