No shortage of lies on job applications

Once you start checking applicants' qualifications diligently, you may be surprised at just how much people lie and exaggerate, says Robert Mather, CEO of Pre-Employ.com, a company in Redding, CA, that conducts background checks for health care providers and other employers.

Mather recommends health care employers check the qualifications of anyone who could potentially put the organization at risk. That checking should include all professional staff such as physicians, but then your budget will determine how far down the pyramid you go with checking an applicant's background, he says.

"If you have the budget for it, check everyone's background and everything they say on their applications," he says. "But in reality, few employers are going to do a complete background check on the janitorial staff and take the time to call and verify everything on their applications. You do have to draw the line somewhere."

Mather recommends asking this question when determining how to use limited resources in verifying qualifications: If this person is lying, what are the potential consequences? The worse the potential outcome, the more you need to verify qualifications, he says.

The most common falsification is lying about educational degrees, Mather says, followed by licenses. Embellishment and "fudging the facts" are more common than blatant lies, he says. "The same holds true for past employment history as well as licensure and education," he says. "It's less common for someone to say they received a degree from a university where they never sat foot on the campus than it is to say they have the degree when they actually were a few classes short. Either way, it's falsification that you need to know about." (Editor's note: For more information on background checks for employees, contact Mather at P.O. Box 491570, Redding, CA 96049. Telephone: (800) 300-1821, ext. 124. E-mail: bob.m@pre-employ.com. Web: www.pre-employ.com.)