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How do you know the consultant you get is the consultant you interviewed?

In my previous blog “Judging SAP talent – Can social media make a difference?” I spoke to the various options open to a skilled SAP resource for getting their name out there. I was subsequently asked how do I know whether the linked in profile is genuine and how do I know that the recommendations are genuine…

It is truly sad that it has come to this but the sad fact is that there are those unprofessional cheats out there that employ underhanded tactics to enhance their chances of winning the contract. These tactics include:

  1. Getting someone else more skilled to field the verbal interview. As an example: I had a project manager tell me a story of a consultant that he personally interviewed and he spoke great English and new his stuff. When he landed in the US and arrived on site it was clear that it was not the same person as he could hardly speak a word of English… That same person only lasted a week on site before being sent packing but in the meantime managed to drive the rental car through a brick wall in to a pool… That’s a side story but all too funny (except if you are the pool owner!)
  2. Creating a fake resume with false claims and projects on them highlighting experience that they simply do not have. As an example: I run the website ERPGenie.COM and in the good old days I used to receive resumes via email and post them to the site manually (today you just register as a job seeker and post it yourself for free). Well, I received a resume from the consulting company that I worked for asking me to check to see if this person is any good with workflow and to do a technical interview with them. When I got the resume I recognized the name and went to ERPGenie to check it out and sure enought the projects coincided so the guy was the same guy. Unfortunately for him the resume on ERPGenie had no mention of workflow whatsoever whereas the one applying for the workflow position had workflow at each project… Which do you believe. NEXT!!!!
  3. Manipulating the social media. How do they do this? Creating a profile that is made up of fake references and experience and then creating “phantom” people that create excellent reviews the candidate making them look exceptional.
  4. Other ways —- I am not a recruiter so please share in the comments section other ways that people cheat the system and I’ll include them here…

So, the legitimate candidates now how to jump through hoops to “prove” their abilities to recruiters and potential clients because these cheaters have tainted the profession.

What can you do you, as an honest SAP professional, to ensure you are found to be legitimate? This is an easy one: DON’T LIE!!!

What can a recruiter or client do to ensure the candidate they are reviewing is who they say they are? This is more difficult and the unscrupulous will only be found out once they arive on site. In any case here are a few tips to qualify someone:

  1. Schedule a phone interview as soon as you can with the candidate. As soon as you do the interview also make sure you have a technical interview lined up at the same time. Listen for a change of pace in the answers. Don’t allow time for discussion in the background and anyone else on the line is a no-no.
  2. Research the social modia thoroughly. Click on the profiles of the people providing recommendations on LinkedIn, as an example. Check that they held the position they say they held and check that they endorsed other people as well and check those people’s profiles. If you find several endorsements and follw the trail 3 to 4 deep and they all pan out then it’s most likely they are legitimate. If it’s only 1 or 2 levels with little detail at each and no reach outside the 2 levels then be wary.
  3. Check Google or other search engines for posts by the candidate on forums to see at what level they are asking questions. If they are asking beginner type questions then be wary or at least understand what you are getting in to.
  4. What can you do about a fake resume? Not much. Check the references, that’s about it.
  5. Other ways —- I am not a recruiter so please share in the comments section other ways that you use to ensure a good candidate and I’ll include them here…

Once a candidate is found to be dishonest they are obviously flagged in each of the recruiting agencies as such but there is no colaboration between these or websites to blacklist them. If only this were in place we’d be able to clean up this industry!

I would certainly like to hear comments from the recruiters out there as to how they combat these issues and even if they care about them.

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  • I have written a couple of articles about my experiences, and included several tips and tricks as well.  Here are the posts on screening and spotting fake CONsultants:

    Screening Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant

    Screening Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2

    This has been a passion of mine for some time.  I am absolutely floored by the number of outright FRAUDS there are out there in the marketplace.  It is long past time for SAP to start a meaningful registry for training classes and certifications.  One where end clients can look up the claims of training or certs.

    For the folks who have LEGITIMATE training facilities SAP can certify their courses as well.  Without this, and because of the MASSIVE numbers of fakes, frauds, cons, and liars out there claims of SAP training and certification are nearly worthless.

    • Bill,
      Thank you for your comments. Your 2 blogs were incredibly detailed and useful. Required reading for all recruiters out there...
      Thank you
    • SAP Training and Certification aren't the gold standard by any means. It is easy to attend training and fairly easy for trainees to clear certification.

      There are thousand shades of grey between outright 'frauds' and supposed 'good guys' which most would like to claim to be.

      As long as there is an unfair incentive in padding up resumes the practice may continue. (To cite one example, how uncommon it is to find same kind of contract work paying x VS 3x dollars just because of the difference in weight(company, years of experience, position) of the resume.
      An unfair entry barrier in terms of all positions needing x no of years (or y full life-cycles) doesn't help either. It is a deficiency on part of recruiters to go by such outdated and often irrelevant benchmarks just because they find it easy.

      I may have a 20 years experienced person with a nice (and true) resume. What is the probability that this person will be the right person for the job (as against a person with only 2 years of relevant experience but who has the right attitude and willingness/capability to learn)?

      In my opinion experience is highly overrated.

      • Interesting perspective but not sure I completely agree.  There will ALWAYS be exceptions in every situation, however the falsification or "padding" of a resume is fraud.  Especially when an end customer pays the rates they pay.

        Would you consider this as many "thousands of shades of grey" that you contend if the resume were for a surgeon?  Say a heart or brain surgeon?  Or what about a government employed bridge engineer with no experience but a fake resume and a "great attitude"? 

        Sure, there are a number of experienced folks that are not worth what they are paid.  But you are more likely to still have that bridge done right with the 20 year experienced bridge engineer with the bad attitude.  Same goes for the heart or brain surgery.

        Unfortunately lots of folks rationalize that it is "business" so they justify stealing from them with fake resumes.  For some reason people consider it somehow "acceptable" to rip off companies.

  • to invoke some ugly stories from the marketplace 🙂
    But to stick to your specific question, how do you know who you get is who you interviewed?
    Never hire anyone based on a phone interview unless you already have a trusted source who can verify their expertise in the topic you are want to hire them for. If you can't meet initially face to face then make sure that you can at least see them on a webcam when you talk to them.
    Make sure your contract has a n day trial period if your local legislation allows for it...saves you lots of money in the long run.

    The fact that modern technology allows us to hire people remotely does not automatically make it the right thing to do (like many other things these days).

    Champion topic, hopefully you get some good feedback on it!

  • Well, it is nice to read something out of context here but a very well required thing that should be kept under check so that the gud guys dont suffer due to others.

    I liked the one options - of interviewing the candidate on webcam. As now technology is getting advanced and the same is possible at most places this can be utilized to minimize the issue.


  • When I first started interviewing prospective consultants, I found myself asking about half a dozen technical questions during the interview.  But really how effective is that?  So what I have since created is a offline knowledge questionaire (based on Flex), where it asks up to 100 questions based on categories.  Here's the great thing ... if for example someone includes 'NetWeaver Java skills' in their resume, during the interview I tick the category 'NetWeaver Java' in my test questions ... you would be surprised how many candidates immediately own up that they don't really have skills in that area!  Typically, I include 50 questions in a typical interview (the application has a timer) ... that is much more effective than simply thinking up half a dozen questions or so, and gives me some real metrics to compare different people.  That said, there is still no substitute for reference checks (these days, you can typically find someone you know who has worked with the candidate in the past), and also all the 'soft' skills that you might pick up during an interview are really important of course (eg. communication / interpersonal skills).  But the test gives me a much better way to weed out the 'pretenders'.  Here's an interesting experience I once had ... I interviewed a senior manager from a Tier 1 consultancy firm who had 'NetWeaver Expert' on his CV.  Yet he didn't know what the SDN was ....
    • John,

      Nice story about the SAP NW expert....

      Regarding testing: I offer that service on ERPGenie as well and some of our recruiters use the service to test their potential candidates. It is a good way to judge their skills but then another recruiter asked how we know that the candidate actually took the test... It's a never ending loop isn't it?

  • I ask questions just as "pointers" and see how they deal with it, or whether they have at least (or only) read the documentation.

    Far more usefull is how you react to the answer, either by drilling down or switching to a topic they seem to be interested in.

    That way you find out more about them.

    Of course, if the wrong person lands at the airport, then you send them and the recruiter directly to the volcano.. 🙂

    I would also recommend trying to find out who took the call.

    In a parallel world here on SDN, we delete the user ID's of people who cheat the points system in a similar way. Once their CV's are in circulation and their link points to "Guest" or the "Coffee Corner", then it is their problem to administrate the internet (a candidate recently claimed that he did this from 2006 to 2008 and the the customer was very happy.. 🙂

    The real damage done is the reputation to the product IMO.

    I also believe that consultants can "protect" themselves by contributing to SDN, even if very selectively and seldom.

    That which does not kill you, only makes you stronger 🙂


  • I know a face-to-face interview presents problems and expenses, but before anyone commits to a contractor or employee, a face-to-face interview, along with a technical interview with a couple of experienced and knowledgable team members might result in insight into the candidates real abilities....and limitations...

    Also, if you have a trusted foreign contractor, talk to that person about the person's background, and ask them to help you figure out how long the person has been in country, whether or "fresher" or truly experienced consultant, etc.

    In my experience, foreign contractors are much more skilled at networking than Americans.  I've had experiences where, as part of the workday, a consultant would discuss a technical issue with me...Afterward, I would realize that he was not talking about his work..and when the person then engages in lengthy conversation with someone via cell phone, in his native language, I've realized that I just saved some inexperienced "fresher" from getting the boot...

    • Sure. THEY have great networking skills. I just received this:

      I hope you are doing well and had a nice weekend.
      I found your reference online and requesting you to let me know if you
      have a/an SAP Technical job opportunity (Contract/Permanent) suiting to
      the attached, my cover letter. Please find it. Thanks.

      Kindly have a look at few lines below about my background/professional
      career and help me with a job opportunity if possible.

      The "funny" thing is that this inquiry is sent from his current employer's email.


    • Sure. THEY have great networking skills. I just received this:

      I hope you are doing well and had a nice weekend.
      I found your reference online and requesting you to let me know if you
      have a/an SAP Technical job opportunity (Contract/Permanent) suiting to
      the attached, my cover letter. Please find it. Thanks.

      Kindly have a look at few lines below about my background/professional
      career and help me with a job opportunity if possible.

      The "funny" thing is that this inquiry is sent from his current employer's email.


  • Many companies when recruiting do not place enough importance on the technical interviews.  The technical interviewer should have more experience than the person being interviewed and from my experience should only need 15 to 30 minutes to determine the suitability of the person being interviewed.  Typically I would find some "problems" related to the job requirements and ask the person interviewed how they would solve the problem.  Even if an answer cannot be given, consultant being interviewed should be able to show their knowledge by the thought process they use and their ability to stay with the actual problem.  It is equally important that the consultant being interviewed know what is not possible in SAP, as well as what is.
  • I have known a fair number of my friends who had appeared for video conference interviews for long distance clients or recruiters.