It’s no secret that most hiring managers nowadays look up their candidates before or after the interview process. And then comes reference check. In this article, hiring managers share their favorite “they were perfect until we googled them” stories.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
I was interviewing a chef for my business. The interview went great – and he had an excellent resume. Worked at some of the top restaurants in the world, 3-michelin star type places. Even did a short cooking test with some spare-ribs and they were incredible.
There was some stiff competition though so eventually we decided to look at everyones Facebook profiles. One of his old profile pics was him at a Mardi Gras parade dressed as Pikachu with a big dildo strapped on.
He got the job.
I was a restaurant manager and the owner hired this guy as a chef without doing basic research (which he did a few times). Anyways, the guy said he had won several awards and worked with celebrities, etc.
The guy was a total jerk to everyone on staff. I decided to google him. First hit is a mugshot from a drug arrest. Then more articles, one about where he lied about getting a James Beard award from a previous restaurant he worked at. A comment about him owing 25,000 or something to his former boss. The only positive restaurant review he had was from 1990.
I came in after the weekend to show my boss this stuff, when I learned he was fired the night before for exposing himself to one of the waitresses.
Everything looked good on her resume, she was very professional and enthusiastic in her interview and just had that self-starter attitude that made you feel like “this girl is going to get things done.
Well… ran a background check and literally nothing checked out. She was not actually licensed in her field like she claimed and she had about a dozen priors for various white collar crimes and none of her work history or references checked out. I guess she was just hoping that her charisma would win us over and that we wouldn’t bother checking up on her.
Hiring private tutors to work with middle School students. Had a great conversation with a girl, she stressed how much she wants to be a role model for young girls, basically exactly what we were looking for. Then I Googled her and the first picture on her Facebook is her doing a line of cocaine.
Candidate listed employment history as “Director of Finance” for a company I had never heard of. But, there are a lot of fish in my pond and you can never know them all. Resume looked good, nice and clean, good experience, great education, immaculate credentials. Except none of it was real. The company was real, when I checked their filings with the state it turns out it was the candidate’s own company, it had no physical location, and didn’t actually offer any product or service. The phone number went to a cell phone that was answered by an “assistant,” who it turns out was the candidate himself. None of the other companies he listed on his resume had any record of him ever working there. Then we googled the guy himself, turns out he was awaiting trial for assault. His plan must have been to dazzle us with his credentials, get a glowing recommendation from the “CEO” of the “company” he “worked for,” and have us be so impressed we would just hire him without any due diligence. Sad part is some company’s probably going to.
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Had a guy apply for an entry level post with us recently. His CV was okay, so we offered him an interview. Social media seemed okay too. He never turned up for the interview.
A couple of weeks later, there’s a story about him in the local paper. Turned out that he was living at the local boarding house, and was found in the kitchen one morning totally wasted, wearing nothing but a pair of socks. When a couple of women who also lived there tried to escort him back to his room, he got violent and assaulted them. Given the dates stated in the paper, he didn’t turn up because he’d been in jail at the time of the interview.
His resume has now been added to the ‘do not touch with a 10ft barge pole’ section in our filing cabinet.
I was hiring for our late night shift (shifts ending at 2am/3am) and she was willing to work anything and looking for about 25 hours per week. This was absolutely what the company was looking for. She had mentioned that she was “grieving her little boy who passed two weeks ago and needed to do something to occupy her time.”
She finished her one day of computer training and stopped showing up. Later in the week she sent me an email stating that she “wasn’t ready to come back to work like she’d thought.” which was understandable.
My assistant manager and I decided to look her up only to find that she had multiple GoFundMe pages set up for her sob story with different amounts of time that the supposed child had been dead for. Her Facebook was full of selfies and party photos.
She ended up asking for the job back a few months later and we shot her down pretty quick.
I was interviewing a much older guy for a similar position of mine. Everything seemed okay, and he was our best candidate. Before moving forward, I did a quick google search to only find out that he was fired from his previous job because of stealing $5000 worth of computer equipment.
My director hired him anyway.
Had a guy come in to apply for a dump truck job, seemed ok, very well spoken, clean cut, not the type you usually see applying for a job driving a dump truck. He told me he had a PhD in Psychology, had his own DWI / addiction counseling business but his wife divorced him and he lost everything. So I Googled him, he wasn’t lying, but the story goes much deeper… turns out his wife was cheating on him, when he found out where the boyfriend lived he snorted almost enough coke to give himself a heart attack and went to his house, where his wife’s car was parked. He shot 30 rounds from an AR-15 into the house and the car with them inside the house! Somehow he got off with only six months in jail and probation.
I wasn’t the hiring manager but I was talking to him about a couple interviews he had coming up. He said he looked up one guy and found that he’d been arrested previously for various identity theft/credit card fraud crimes. This position involved taking payments from customers, among other things, so obviously this guy would not be hired, but that had to be an awkward interview.
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Where I work they hired a guy who was great at the job and a nice, quiet employee. His background check took forever to clear for “some reason” but it ultimately came back clean. Eventually he said he needed to take a day off for court, but he just never came back after that day. Upon looking into it, he had been found guilty of assault. That must have been why it took so long to come back, they were unsure if it should be reported since it was pending…
We were narrowing the group down to 2-3 candidates. We then Google/ Facebook/ LinkedIn them and get to one that was in the top 2. Their Facebook was completely open to the public to view everything. Lots of racist, sexist comments. Some photos of them with some slight nudity.
Was too bad, their resume was quite good. Just not something we would consider appropriate.
I noticed on his resume that he claimed to be a graduate of the Yale School of Music.
When I asked his thoughts about Woolsey Hall (Yale’s main concert hall) and its famous pipe organ (prominently on display, front and center), he obviously had no idea what I was referring to – he had never heard of Woolsey Hall.
I hired a girl, she interviewed well. First day she threw up some red flags, but I figured I was misjudging or misinterpreting. People started missing money and one of my belongings disappeared, which had never happened prior to her hiring. She was insulting everyone and making customers uncomfortable and I wanted her gone (less than 4 full weeks from her start date) but didn’t want to pay unemployment. Finally do a search- arrest records in multiple states involving domestic violence and theft. She ended up making sexual remarks towards one of my barely legal employees so I fired her for sexual harrassment. Lesson learned: CHECK EVERYONE OUT NO MATTER HOW WELL THEY INTERVIEW!
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I worked for a staffing agency. Guy is hired and comes in for background and drug screen. He has lots of priors, but he was working in a kitchen so we got the okay to continue the process. It wasn’t until the drug screen that he gets a little nervous. I tell them that we are going to do a drug screen now, and he asks to put it off till Monday. Typically, we’d have to have to it that day so they could start work but this was like 4:45 on a Friday and we wanted to go home so we said yes. Monday rolls around and he shows up. He takes the test and it comes up positive for weed, cocaine, and some other stuff. We told him that we test multiple things and that cocaine also showed up. We asked him if that was a surprise. He told us “I do dabble in cocaine, but I thought this was a test for weed?” We politely said that we couldn’t hire him.
There are so many weird stories from working at a staffing agency.
I was hiring for a city engineering position for a small municipality. Received an application packet from what seemed like perfect candidate. He had held a similar position with a larger city, well written resume, and he interviewed quite well. He seemed just a little cagey about answering the “why did you leave your last position” question.
On a hunch, I did a pretty deep Google search and found out that not only had he been fired from one previous local government job, he was the subject of so many hostile work environment and union grievance claims that the city he last worked for basically paid him to quit. And on top of that, I found a blurb where another town’s park and rec board had banned him from attending any of his kid’s soccer games there, for physically assaulting a ref.
Never before or since, have I shredded a resume with such intensity of purpose.
Years ago at my previous company. A few co-workers met an young man interested in a software development position with us at a local trade conference and invited him to come interview with us later that afternoon.
Said fellow eagerly provided the link to his blog. Top post was about being recently released on probation after a stint for illicit drug sales, and how his upstream supplier was kind enough to front him some startup capital and some new inventory to resume his little side gig, as his previous stash was allegedly confiscated during a previous visit by law enforcement. Co-workers and I decided to read a few more posts just to make sure we didn’t confuse him for the wrong guy and inadvertently got the wrong link.
Sure enough, a few photos in some older posts confirmed it was the same guy. We managed to get little additional work done in the rest of the afternoon between speculation as to when his apparent commitment to full public disclosure would land himself back in the clink and whether we ought to even mention having checked out his blog.
We all had to try very hard to keep a straight face when he did come in for his interview. He actually was reasonably knowledgeable when it came to the job, and somehow we managed to completely avoid the question of his side gig in recreational pharmaceutical sales. We gave him an A+ for honesty, and a F for good sense.
He was not extended an offer for employment.
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We had hired a new entry-level graphic designer. Let’s call him Will. He had talent and a decent portfolio, but there were some strange things right from the beginning.
For example he would always come in wearing expensive suits, despite our being a jeans-and-T-shirt office, and his having a very low-paid position. We didn’t care much about that. No clue how he affords that wardrobe, but that’s none of our business. He’s a designer, and I guess he likes to look nice.
The weirdest thing was that he adamantly refused to accept direct deposit for his paycheck. He wanted a physical check every other week. Strange, but okay. Designers are eccentric sometimes.
So, one evening we’re all working really late on a project together. We’ve got some bottles of wine around, some pizzas, etc. It’s miserably long hours but we’re a good team and having a good time.
All of a sudden Will looks up from his computer and runs as fast as he can out the door. Not a word to any of us, he just dashes out. We all look at each other, try calling him, etc, with no answer. We finish up the project and go home still wondering what happened.
The next day Will doesn’t come into work. He doesn’t come in the next day either. We try calling his emergency contact, but don’t get any response there either.
So we Google him, and see the FBI press release. Turns out he was arrested about 500 miles from our office a few hours after he ran out. I guess he got a tip that the FBI was onto him and decided to make a run for it.
Turns out he had been defrauding payroll companies for years, to the tune of about $1M. That’s why he didn’t want direct deposit for his paycheck. What he didn’t know was that we processed our physical checks through the same payroll company as our direct deposit, and they reported his new address to the FBI. Oops.
We had a near miss… one senior hire. We were talking about him and how something seemed a little off when we googled him. It was like he didn’t exist at all and the odd super positive tidbit of information that was always a bit too much of a stretch to be completely believable. I mean one or two people saying you’re the best thing on earth is one thing but this was like all you got were these sporadic and hyper, manic observations.
One of the junior members of the team pipes up at this point. She’s overheard what we’re talking about. Turns out she’s worked the last two places he’s worked and he’s like a locust. He’s extremely good at his job but an absolute nightmare in all other ways. Sexual harassment, bullying, turning up wasted. He has a really niche skill set, there are always more roles than people to fill so he hops along, bullies everyone out of their role in his team, brings in his entourage to the point where almost anyone normal rage quits because the atmosphere is so toxic. Then when HR try and step in he hits them with a constructive dismissal case and drags lawyers in so there’s no paper trail
She said he’d done it at her last job and the one before.
It’s one of those things that once you know, you start to notice stuff. So at events when somebody mentioned this guy’s name half the table would just give each other a look and the others would have no idea. It’s not quite an open secret but it’s definitely on the grapevine anecdotally if not formally.
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Not the hiring manager but I was the intern responsible for checking references and running backgrounds at our company and this was in my first week where I was just learning how to go about things.
This guy did great in the interview so I got the go ahead to run a background check and call his references. Something popped up in his background so I had to call the police station to figure out how to get a copy of the police report since whatever happened had just happened.
I talked to someone on the phone and gave them a his name and who I was and what I was calling for. After doing so, whoever I was talking to didn’t know how to go about obtaining the information on her end. She put me on a brief hold then took a call back number and promised to call me back with some info.
Well, it’s a good thing neither of us knew what to do because I received a call from the police department less than an hour later. An officer told me “I’m really not supposed to be doing this but I just wanted to let you know that interview guy had been arrested for carjacking a woman and that woman works at your company”
He saw the company name and the guys name and warned us. I’m so grateful too.
About six years ago, we were hiring a new attorney at my law firm.
On the day of the interviews, one of our assistants started checking the prospective candidates bar records. The state bar website provides each lawyer’s disciplinary history, which is a pretty important bit of information to check, and I can’t figure out why no one bothered checking them before they invited candidates to interview.
It turns out that one of the guys coming that morning for an interview had a disciplinary record and had previously been suspended for cocaine possession/use. My boss had his assistant call the guy and try and cancel the interview, but he had already left to come in (apparently we had his home number and not a cell phone).
My boss decided that he was obviously not going to hire this guy, so he had me conduct the interview instead (he didn’t want to have him come all the way in and then tell him immediately that we wouldn’t be hiring him).
The sad thing is that the guy’s resume was impeccable, and he genuinely knew our practice area. He really would have been a great addition to the firm, were it not for his inability to have kept his nose clean.
I run a sales team and one of my RVPs, Chuck, brought in a candidate that he was very enthusiastic about, let’s call her Karen. Chuck, in a previous role, went up against Karen in deals all the time and said that Karen always pulled the deal out from him, that she’d be a major asset. I met Karen, thought she was nice, but certainly didn’t find her to be the typical quota killer, but Chuck was excited and I try to give my RVPs a lot of rope so I checked a few references and did income verification, which all checked out, background check was fine too.
Fast forward to Karen’s first day, I immediately knew something was off. She was frantic, running around the office barefoot, wearing her glasses on the back of her head, dressed like someone out of little house on the prairie – essentially not acting at all like someone who had the potential to make $500k that year. On her 2nd day, our VP of Marketing walked into my office and asked me what I thought of Karen, I responded that I thought she seemed a little nutty, but was trying to give her a shot. He then asked me to google her name and the town she lived in, the results, to this day are still some of the best google gold I’ve ever seen.
Long story short, this woman was in the middle of a nasty divorce. Her husband was living with a family friend and she tried to burn down the family friends house in retaliation for letting him stay there and had been arrested for attempted arson, this didn’t pop on the background check as it happened a couple weeks prior to her starting. In addition to the arrest, the husband was granted a restraining order. This was enough grounds to terminate her, but it got better. 3 evenings prior to her first day with our company, she violated her restraining order and broke into her husbands car that she filled with ripped up photos of them and doused his car in gasoline. She was arrested again for this act and then placed on house arrest with a GPS monitor. It turns out that she removed the monitor to come to work, which yielded in yet another arrest but that wasn’t until after I terminated her employment.