Failure to conduct background checks

FOX 13 in Salt Lake City reports that the candidate that was recently hired as the Managing Director of the Pioneer Theatre Company at the University of Utah, deceived recruiters with “outlandish” claims to obtain the position. The candidate portrayed “himself as “the Mastermind,” a major figure in the film, television, advertising, video game, music, and theatre industries” according to Fox 13.

The education is the most common falsification on a resume and it also happens to be the easiest to confirm. Usually the first step in the screening process, education is confirmed either by phone or through the National Student Clearinghouse. In this case, it would only have taken a few minutes to confirm that this candidate did not receive a Bachelors and a Masters degree from New York University as claimed on the resume. A falsified education is an early warning signal to a potential employer.

Just a few of the numerous claims submitted by this candidate that could not be confirmed by Fox 13 are:

Worked in advertising at Old Spice and KFC and received accolades relating to his performance at both companies

Worked on video game series Resident Evil and Final Fantasy.

Produced episodes of Jersey Shore, a reality TV show featuring Paris Hilton and others

He was inducted into the Producer’s Guild of America Hall of Fame “for exceptional contributions to new media” in 2018.

The candidate’s personal website stated in 2019 he was awarded “Humanitarian of the Year” by the “National Performing Arts Action Association and that he received “an honorary key to the city”, that being Washington, D.C. “FOX 13 learned the “NPAAA” does not appear to exist outside of press releases advertising”  the candidate’s award.

Magazines touted the candidate’s accolades, expertise and achievements to revitalize and turn around the marketing programs at Old Spice, KFC and other companies. While the names of the magazines publishing the articles sound legitimate, they exist only to charge people to publish their own articles and stories without any fact-checking or review of the accuracy of the content. Basically anyone can create a story to promote experiences, success, and employment that are completely fictitious and use the articles to bolster their claims through the magazines and distribution through social media channels.

Communications Director, Chris Nelson at U of U sent the following statement to Fox 13 via email:

“All applicants for jobs at the University of Utah attest during the application process that the information they’re submitting about their background is accurate. The same is expected for information included on a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). If information is found to be inaccurate an employee is given the chance to correct the information and provide an explanation as to why information was incorrect. Consequences can range from corrective disciplinary action up to termination of employment, depending on the situation.”

 “The firm employed to help recruit and identify candidates for this position was paid $35,928,” Nelson wrote. “Typically, when the university hires an outside company (search firm) to help in recruitment of executive positions the expectation and terms of the agreement are that the finalists sent to the University for review have been properly screened and the information about their backgrounds confirmed.”

It is apparent that background screening was not conducted to confirm any of the claims included in the resume.

This particular example of the independent consequences of the failure to conduct background investigations only resulted in embarrassment for the University and wasted time and financial resources. Other cases we will highlight include serious consequences for an employer that failed to properly screen candidates.