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Playing e-Detective

Checking out applicants online can save you trouble--and get you into it.

This story appears in the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Serge Knystautas is considering applicants for a job, he goes a step beyond reading cover letters and calling references. He uses Web search engines. "By the time we're down to five or 10 candidates and we're figuring out who to bring in for an interview, I'll spend 15 minutes searching [online]," says Knystautas, 28, founder and president of Loki Technologies Inc., a six-employee tech company in Bethesda, Maryland, with annual sales of about $1 million. "It's a good gut check."

Knystautas keeps his searches simple. He pulls up Web sites of former employers, does searches using the applicant's name, peruses university sites, and cruises news archives for postings to chat groups. If the applicant worked on a project with a notable name or has written source code, he might try to see if there's some history of it online.

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