How to Identify and Manage Fake References in Your Eye Care Practice

By Practice Growth April 28, 2022

According to a Society for Human Resources Management poll, 98% of employers check references for employment verification. Still, the majority do not delve deeper into questions of character, disciplinary actions, personality, or work performance. However, it is advisable to take time to phone references and gain insight into potential hires. It also demonstrates a good-faith effort to investigate an individual’s background if the person is hired and later harms co-workers or the eye care practice, which places the company at risk for a negligent hiring charge. 

What should the hiring manager do if a reference is suspected to be false?

Unfortunately, job seekers’ use of false references is on the rise. Such references can even be bought online for a nominal fee, although people have had family or friends pose as past employers or colleagues for ages. While providing a fake reference is illegal and grounds for potential legal action, employers are rarely litigious. In the best interest of the eye care practice, what can be done is to learn how to identify false references and handle them gracefully.

 There are three prime indicators that a reference is not legitimate when speaking with a provided reference:

● Vague information

● Overly personal information

● A discrepancy between what is on the resume and the applicant’s online footprint

When a reference can only provide vague answers to specific questions about the applicant, it may indicate that the person on the other end of the line has no first-hand knowledge about the character or work performance in specific situations. When family or friends pose as a professional reference, they may offer personal information known to them in place of work-related insights. Finally, seeing information online contrary to what is on the resume is another means of revealing fake references.

When the hiring manager of your eye care practice strongly suspects a reference is fake, there are a few avenues for action. The one chosen depends on managerial style and preference. It is, however, advisable to treat the handling of fake references in a consistent manner.

Do Nothing, Without Moving Forward

You didn't get the job. Now what? | The Seattle TimesPerhaps the simplest option is to do nothing and not hire the candidate. The prime benefit of this approach is the avoidance of conflict. The hiring manager of your eye care practice suspends any further action on an application and moves on to other prospects. If adopting this approach, consider making a note on the application about the reasons for suspecting a false reference and label it as a Do Not Hire to inform decisions if the individual chooses to apply again in the future.

Do Nothing, Moving Forward

Perhaps providing a false reference detracts little from other qualities the candidate possesses. The applicant’s education and work history checked out, representing an invaluable skill set to your practice. In such a case, the hiring manager may essentially let the false reference slide and move forward to hire and onboard. However, employers should stand warned that even minor incidents of dishonesty may reveal an inclination to more deception in the future.

Allow the Candidate to Explain

5 Things Not To Say In a Job InterviewA final option for handling a false reference is to bring the situation to the application with an opportunity to explain. In confronting a potential hire with dishonesty, the candidate will admit to or deny the allegation. The reason for providing a fake reference may be understandable, such as lacking sufficient confidence in skills or a fallout with a previous employer. Then, it is up to management to decide if the circumstances surrounding the provision of false information should impact hiring decisions.

In conclusion, eye care practices should be aware that applicants are not always transparent or as good as their resumes read. Fake references are relatively common and candidates can now pay for fake references via online companies, so recognizing their markers is an essential skill. Consider the options for handling these references carefully along with the potential consequences. Once a decision is made, consider adding the action to your practice’s human resources policy to provide direction if fake references emerge in the future.



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