5 Ways Candidate Screening and Food Photography are Basically the Same Thing

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Have you seen that great video floating around LinkedIn that reveals the trade-tricks of food photographers? You probably never realized that those burgers we see in ads are actually held together with sponges and toothpicks to make them look bigger and more appetizing. The video got us thinking about more than the Big Mac we ate last week. No one knows the exact percentage of candidates who use similar trickery – or just outright lie – on their resumes, during interviews, or even on job applications, but the estimates range from worrying to extremely upsetting. “But what does that have to do with food advertising,” you ask? Keep reading to find out five ways that candidate screening and food photography actually have quite a lot in common.

  1. Smoke and mirrors; things are not always as they appear!

We don’t even want to talk about how the videographers created steam behind that potato, but it did remind us of how some applicants choose to misrepresent their criminal history. According to SHRM, about half of employers that conduct pre-employment screening ask about criminal histories directly on their job application, and while we know that honesty is the best policy, you can’t always trust that a candidate is being transparent. In some cases, this can go terribly wrong, as it did in South Carolina in 2006 when a serial killer applied for his real estate license. After downplaying his felony conviction on the application to a much lesser offense and explaining it away as a misunderstanding, he was taken at his word and granted the license. This man was not apprehended until 2016 after taking 8 lives. Needless to say, that entity now runs background checks on all of their applicants before granting any licenses. Most of the time, candidates are honest and, hopefully, that is real steam you see coming from the delicious baked potato in the commercial (watch the video to see what we mean) – but double-check just to make sure.

  1. Padding

According to Glassdoor, a full quarter of those who lie on their resumes are lying about their employment dates, with an equivalent percentage fibbing about other aspects of their professional history. Whether it’s tacking on a few months to cover an unexplained gap, beefing up a position title, or making up a job entirely, applicants are betting that you’ll just gloss over this part. But what happens when you hire a person because they appear to have experience in your industry only to find that they can’t keep up with the work? Misrepresenting work history often means misrepresenting skills, and eventually those lies will make themselves evident. Like the cardboard in between those not-so-fluffy pancakes, you’ll know you’ve been duped only when you commit to taking a bite! Professional background screening companies will help to unpack this problem and verify the employment listed on the applicant’s background history form to check for such deceptions.

  1. No, that’s definitely not food

How did you feel when the video showed glue being used as milk? Now imagine finding out the candidate you’ve already hired lied about their degree. It’s more common that you think. Try Googling the words “diploma mill” and you’ll be shocked at how many websites pop up offering degrees that are either unaccredited or entirely forged. Our blog recently covered a case where a candidate running for the Florida State House was revealed to have lied extravagantly about having obtained a degree from Miami University, even posting a picture of herself with said degree. This is especially problematic in the medical field, where hiring someone with falsified education could result not only in regulatory penalties and the costs associated with litigation, but possibly in the loss of life. This is a risk that isn’t worth taking, and education verifications are a simple step that goes a long way.

  1. Don’t trust the soup

The part in the video where they divulge that garnishes sitting atop a bowl of soup in an ad are sitting atop a submerged ramekin was probably the least off-putting thing we saw. But then we started to think. Had the ramekin been washed first? If you came in expecting soup thick enough to hold up a hefty garnish, you’re going to end up disappointed, right? More information is required! Now you’ve got a candidate who has passed all the verifications, their criminal history is clean, and they’ve interviewed well! But when you hire them, you start getting complaints about their behavior from other employees, they’re unreliable or volatile when they presented so well during interviews. Especially in the era of #MeToo, this can be a very serious issue. But how could you have known? Another service that many screening companies offer is reference checks. Behavioral issues that translate to performance issues are sometimes lurking just beneath the surface, and the best way to find them is to talk to those who know the individual in a direct professional relationship.

  1. It looks like ice cream, but-

What if everything checks out? When we looked at that ice cream cone, 3 out of 5 of our senses were thoroughly convinced, and smell doesn’t count when we’re talking about videos. Candidates who pass all the other tests can still be problematic if you do not have a proper drug testing program in place. Now that we are officially in the midst of an opioid crisis, it’s important to understand that substance abuse can affect anyone, at any time, at any place. While it’s important to have compassion for such a sweeping and devastating problem, the impact it can have on a workplace can’t be ignored. If someone is injured by an employee of yours who was under the influence, there can be stout legal and monetary consequences for the company, not to mention the personal impact on those who were injured. Pre-employment, reasonable suspicion and random drug testing are all important parts of a robust drug testing program, and can be vital in protecting you and your workforce. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Take the extra step.

Having a tough time digesting (sorry, couldn’t resist) all this? If so, remember that the phrase “more than meets the eye” exists for a reason, and applicant screening programs can reveal the truth.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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