Red flags in employee background checks

So you have found the best candidate for the role you’ve advertised for and now ready to offer them a role. There is however just one more hoop for them to jump through - the background check. More often than not it’s not a question of them passing or failing. If you find something that you believe to be questionable it’s a good idea to raise it with them first to give them the opportunity to explain. 

Here are some issues that could possibly raised and need to be discussed:

Inconsistencies on their CVs

The checks you do should give you an accurate representation of the companies your candidate has worked for previously. Often they will have only highlighted where they have worked for in the past that’s relevant to the role they’re applying for. If you do spot an inconsistency however, rather than disregard them as a future employee try to speak to them first.

On occasion you may spot a clerical error, however it is always possible that your candidate has embellished their CV. If you have spotted significant differences between a candidate’s CV and their background check it may indicate they are being untruthful with their career history and this in turn may create future problems within their new role.

Criminal history

A criminal history may be a somewhat surprising discovery about a candidate’s past however it’s important to know that an arrest or conviction does not automatically exclude them from employment. Although a history of criminality can be a warning sign, check if the nature of the crimes would impact on their ability to do the job. It would be good to consider also how much time has passed since their conviction. If concerned, raise this with the candidate and give them the opportunity to show why they should be given a chance.

It’s also worth remembering that arrests and convictions are very different. Having an arrest record does not necessarily mean they have been unlawful. (People get arrested for all kinds of reasons). However, if there is evidence of bad conduct that disqualifies a candidate for a particular position, employers have grounds for dismissing their candidate. If you are considering to employ someone with a criminal history, it should be handled sensitively when it is discussed.

Negative references from previous co-workers

When making a reference call, it can often be a mixed bag. Though obviously you will only want to hear great references, a bad reference can be trickier to appraise. Receiving a bad one can be a reflection of poor performance. However, it could also be based on a combination of things such as personal history or bitterness between employees that are difficult to discover from a short phone call.

Try to use the calls made when checking the reference to confirm facts written on the candidates CV. Any background check issues that do arise from this process should generate conversations with the candidate. Throughout this process, you should be able to discover if the initial bad reference was an accurate representation of your candidate’s ability to do the role. 

Social media

When undertaking a background check many employers now also look at candidates’ social media profiles. A lot of people will reconsider candidates who display things content thats demonstrates aggressive, unlawful, discriminatory or explicit activity. Although this may sound obvious, when you do choose to include social media in a background check, ensure you are always finding information about the correct person and not someone else with the same name. Social media background checks, like other background checks, must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); you have to provide candidates with copies of their reports and make sure you have a process in place if people dispute report findings.

We hope you find this information helpful but please keep in mind that it does not constitute legal advice and we can not be held responsible for any inaccuracies or damages that may result.

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