While it is easy to embellish one's own expertise, some employees are particularly adept at exaggerating their skills and experience to secure a new role.

Managers are reputed to be the worst offenders at making false claims on their CVs. According to a study by talent measurement consultants SHL in Sydney, 39 per cent of managers were honest enough to admit to lying in their resumes.

Fabricating references and forging practising certificates and birth certificates has been all in a day's work for several New Zealand job applicants, including:

  • Rosylin Radha Singh, an Auckland nurse, was struck off the Nurse's Register after altering her practising certificate and providing false references in order to secure employment during suspension by the Nursing Council.
  • Convicted child offender Te Rito Henry Miki, pleaded guilty in the criminal court to seven charges of using false CVs and a falsified birth certificate in order to gain teaching positions in New Zealand schools.
  • Employment lawyer Shadrach Darren Mitchell was struck off the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors for failing to declare his extensive criminal history to his employer and the New Zealand Law Society.

Where job applicants misrepresent skills and qualifications in their CVs, job applications and interviews, they might get jobs for which they may not actually have the skills - with subsequent potential for performance issues. Staff may lack the skills and qualifications necessary to safely and competently perform duties required.

It can be difficult to dismiss staff, so it is best to carry out extensive background checks before offering employment.

You can deter and act on job applicants obtaining a job through deception in the following ways:

  • Include a clause in the Job Application form that the employee has "not omitted or misrepresented any material facts that could affect their employment", and that any "offer of employment is subject to satisfactory background checks."
  • In the job interview, discuss details of the position and find out whether the employee has suitable experience to perform the position.
  • Ask the job applicants' consent to perform background checks relevant to the position. Check the applicants' educational, professional and trade qualifications, and ask detailed questions in job interviews to ensure that their job applicants have the required experience to perform the position.
  • Check references, or hire a pre-employment screening agency to do this. Contact a referee on their business landline number rather than personal cell phone, so that you are less likely to speak to someone who might be impersonating the referee. Ask the referee questions relating to their relationship with the job applicant.
  • You should be satisfied with the results of all background checks before offering employment. Otherwise, you may need to deal with your new employee through a disciplinary process.
  • Protect your business through terms and conditions in your employment agreements. "Trial periods" can prove a useful way to assess a new employee's suitability for a position. If implemented correctly, you can rely on the trial period to dismiss an employee within the first 90 days of employment, without the employee being able to raise a personal grievance about the dismissal. Deal with the employee in good faith, and address any relevant issues relating to performance, to reduce the risk of other legal action. Courts have taken a strict approach towards the use of trial periods, so if in doubt, seek legal advice.

If you find out that your new recruit might have misrepresented or deceived you to get the job, follow a fair disciplinary process. Consider the seriousness of the alleged misrepresentation, such as whether it relates to a material fact that influenced your choice, and whether the deception could be a matter for the Police.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.