Lessons from Yahoo’s CEO debacle: Look into EVERY job candidate

by on May 16, 2012 · 4 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
scott-thompson-yahoo-260x173.jpg

Just four months after being named top guy, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is no longer with the company. Prior to the announcement that he was resigning for health reasons, it was discovered that he lied on his resume. Thompson claimed to have graduated with a degree in computer science, though his university did not offer such a degree until well after he left.

In light of the scandal, Yahoo is dealing with some unfortunate and embarrassing press. The sad part is, this could easily have been avoided.

We’ll never know what exactly happened at Yahoo in the days surrounding Thompson’s hire and subsequent departure, but his resume fiasco should serve as a lesson to all hiring managers.

Under pressure
Hiring managers are often under pressure to fill a position in a hurry, for various reasons: The job is a really important one, the position has been vacant too long, some line manager is complaining about being short-staffed.

So when a job candidate like Scott Thompson comes along, with a pristine resume and a history of getting results, it’s tempting to forego the process of doing your homework and asking the difficult questions to be sure your candidate is as perfect as he or she looks on paper.

But Yahoo has now proven why hiring managers need to overcome that temptation and dig deeper into a candidate’s history. Not only is Yahoo making headlines for a questionable hiring decision, they have to go through the entire process again — all because the hiring team didn’t want to look into a resume that seemed too good to be true.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring a CEO or an intern who will work in the mailroom; hiring managers need to take a long, hard look at every job candidate to make sure the person is really capable of performing the task at hand. The consequences for failing to do so just became a little bit clearer.

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4 Comments on This Post

  1. Linda
    May 16, 2012 - 3:50 pm

    Your line “hiring managers need to take a long, hard look at every job candidate
    to make sure the person is really capable of performing the task at
    hand” is not relevant to the point.  Just because this guy didn’t have a degree in Computer Science doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of being a CEO — it’s  a different skill set.  The fact that he lied on his resume is the point — that’s something that speaks to his character, and THAT is what’s relevant.

  2. Linda
    May 16, 2012 - 3:50 pm

    Your line “hiring managers need to take a long, hard look at every job candidate
    to make sure the person is really capable of performing the task at
    hand” is not relevant to the point.  Just because this guy didn’t have a degree in Computer Science doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of being a CEO — it’s  a different skill set.  The fact that he lied on his resume is the point — that’s something that speaks to his character, and THAT is what’s relevant.

  3. Wendy
    May 17, 2012 - 9:55 am

    We recently interviewed a man for a top position in our organization.  Upon checking his references caller ID showed his name when a female reference returned my call.  This and mention of the candidate’s wife from another reference caused me to look further into this other reference with his name on her caller ID.  As it turned out our candidate gave us his wife as a reference (using her maiden name).  When questioned about this he denied it.  Twenty four hours later he confessed it was his wife and admitted he understood he was no longer a candidate.  He probably would have gotten this top position had we not found this.  Thank you Facebook for helping confirm the relationship.

  4. Wendy
    May 17, 2012 - 9:55 am

    We recently interviewed a man for a top position in our organization.  Upon checking his references caller ID showed his name when a female reference returned my call.  This and mention of the candidate’s wife from another reference caused me to look further into this other reference with his name on her caller ID.  As it turned out our candidate gave us his wife as a reference (using her maiden name).  When questioned about this he denied it.  Twenty four hours later he confessed it was his wife and admitted he understood he was no longer a candidate.  He probably would have gotten this top position had we not found this.  Thank you Facebook for helping confirm the relationship.

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