Background Checks Ensure Employers Hire Who They Expect

Background Checks Ensure Employers Hire Who They Expect

After you've found the ideal employee for your business, it's essential that you conduct a background check before extending an offer.

According to a survey conducted by Checkster Research, 78% of job seekers lie during the hiring process. SmallBizTrends.com, noted one in 10 baby boomers embellish their resumes, while that number jumps to 30% for Gen Xers and a full third of millennials.

What are people lying about? A report produced by CNBC in February 2020 identified the traits job applicants are most likely to fabricate, including:

  • Mastery of a skill they barely use (60%).
  • Working at a company longer than they did to avoid creating a gap in their employment history (50%).
  • Increasing their grade point average in school by more than half a point (49%).
  • Earning a degree when they were either a few credits short; only attended a few classes; or completed work at a different, but less prestigious university (39%).

When it's so easy to verify the information, it's surprising that 66% of hiring managers say they don't really care if someone lies on an application, according to Checkster Ressearch.

But it should matter. If you’re hiring someone specifically because he or she claims to have skills the business needs, it would be a waste of money to have to train that person to become proficient in those skills. It’s also a waste of time and money to start the recruitment process over after terminating an employee hired under false pretenses.

Spot the Liars

There are three ways employers can spot someone who isn't telling the truth.

  1. Better interviewing with specific questions. Here, details matter. For example, when interviewing someone claiming to have many years of experience in overseeing a retail operation, ask how he or she conducts accurate inventories, selects products for resale, arranges displays or plans sales events. The quality of answers will offer insight into whether the person is being truthful.
  2. Check references. Applicants often provide references listing former coworkers and supervisors. They may even offer names of people who can vouch for their character. At the very least, you need to speak to those references. But, for more information, you could be sneakier by asking others at the company about what the employee was like at work. LinkedIn can be a wealth of contact information for people who worked at the same company at the same time – if you're willing to invest time to track down former colleagues.
  3. Conduct a formal background investigation. It is easier today than ever to research a prospective hire's background. Not only is there a lot of data available online through public records, but many people self-disclose plenty of details about their lives on social media sites.

When it comes to conducting background investigations, you can either do it yourself or contract with a third-party to do it for you.

Paid Background Checks

Yes, you could hire private investigators to conduct discrete surveillance and report their findings. But, that's expensive and rather intrusive. There are few Workamping jobs that would require an employer to go to that extreme.

However, there are a number of websites which can perform near-instant checks of public records. Here are some popular, employment-compliant services:

  • aGoodEmployee.com
  • Checkr.com
  • GoodHire.com
  • HireRight.com
  • SentryLink.com
  • Sterling.com
  • VerifiedCredentials.com
  • Certn.com – Specializes in background checks for Canadians

Types of Background Records

There is a plethora of information available to employers today. The more information you need, the more you’ll pay private companies to gather it. As a general rule, basic background checks start around $30 per person, while advanced checks can cost between $60 and $100. If your firm conducts multiple checks throughout the year, the cost can drop by subscribing to a bulk plan.

Here are some standard background categories:

  • Criminal record checks – This shows whether someone has been convicted of a federal, state or county felony or misdemeanor crime. Most employers want to know whether a job candidate poses a threat to customers, could create an unsafe work environment or has potential to harm the company.
  • Civil court checks – Employers use this to look for things like bankruptcies and small claims court proceedings that may indicate a job candidate has financial problems.
  • Credit checks – Credit reports can be used as employment considerations, but they will not include the person’s credit score. Yet, the reports will show payment histories, civil judgements, tax liens and bills sent to collections.
  • Driving records – If a candidate will be operating a company vehicle, employers need to know if he or she has a valid license, whether it has been suspended or revoked, or if that person was ever arrested for driving while intoxicated or ticketed for too many moving violations.
  • Education verification – Here's where a lot of fudging can be uncovered. This report verifies the dates when people were enrolled in a school, what they majored in and whether any degrees were conferred.
  • License or certification verification – If a professional license is needed for a job, such as a plumber or electrician, this check will ensure a candidate has valid credentials which remain in good standing.

Reviewing Social Profiles

Is there a better way of learning more about a job candidate than by reviewing his or her social media profile? Apparently not, considering more than 70% of employers today report using social media to screen candidates, according to Career Builder. In fact, one-third of employers admit to designating someone at their company to specifically monitor social media interactions by staff members.

While baby boomers may not disclose every aspect of their lives to the world, that certainly is not true of younger generations. They'll document every activity, thought and meal they've ever eaten.

More employers are looking at social media profiles and using that data to make hiring decisions. Here are some things potential employers may be interested in seeing on social media:

  • Any rants about previous employers. Team players don't publicly trash their companies and coworkers.
  • Did an employee share confidential information about a previous employer?
  • Inappropriate photographs or videos. That hilarious video of people "partying until they puke" or snorting a line of cocaine at a bar is starting to cost people jobs.
  • What are other people posting about a candidate? While people can control who sees things on their profile pages, most social media platforms allow anyone to conduct name searches to find mentions of specific people.
  • Did a candidate make any discriminatory comments about specific types of people?
  • If hired, is the candidate likely to be persistently vocal about political issues?
  • Did someone admit to "calling in sick" just to socialize with friends, attend a concert or go to a sporting event?
  • Did the candidate post things to social media during what would likely be work hours? If someone was spending time on social media when he or she was supposed to be working, chances are good that person will do it again.
  • Did the candidate use an unprofessional screen name, like HoneyHumper?

Reviewing a social media profile can reveal a trove of information about a candidate’s location. If their resume indicates they were working in Texas last winter, but they were posting about skiing every weekend in Colorado, it might be cause for a conversation.

Be compliant!

Whether you conduct background investigations on your own or hire a company to do it for you, the results can only be used in employment screenings if the review was conducted in accordance to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

The law was passed in 1971 to regulate how private businesses could use personal information. Before the internet, companies relied on credit bureaus to verify data. Now that even more data is available online from multiple sources, the federal government has imposed additional restrictions on what can be acquired and how information can be used.

The key things employers need to do include:

  • Disclose to candidates, in writing, that the company will conduct a background check and use the information to make a hiring decision. That's often as simple as having the person provide full name, date of birth, email address and their most recent address.
  • However, the form must be a separate document from the application. That draws more attention to the significance of granting permission.
  • If an applicant was denied a job, then candidates must be given a copy of the report used to make that decision.
  • If someone is not hired as a result of a background investigation, the candidate must be notified as to why they weren't hired. Employers must reveal which company conducted the investigation and give candidates an opportunity to dispute information they believe to be inaccurate, incomplete or outdated. The law gives candidates 62 days to request a copy of their background report from the company performing the check.

Employers cannot conduct a background check without making the above disclosures or they can be subject to fines up to $1,000 per violation. Ignoring the law also opens the door to being sued by an applicant passed over for a job. However, employers can disqualify a candidate from consideration if he or she refuses to give permission for a check to be conducted.

Of course, employers won’t want to run afoul of requirements established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency makes it illegal for companies employing at least 15 employees to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

If you are going to conduct background investigations of job candidates, it's probably a good idea to check with a local legal professional about other legal landmines that could disrupt your business.

The bottom line is that with all the admitted lying taking place on job applications and resumes, employers owe it to their current staff and customers to employ people with the skills, training and experience required for a job – not hiring a warm body skilled at trickery and deceit to get a job.

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