Running background checks has become a mandatory ritual in most industries, be it small businesses, large enterprises, or employment with the federal government. Background checks are becoming increasingly popular because employers do not want to take any chances with workplace security, employee performance, and undesired liability.
Due to intense competition in today’s job market, some candidates may attempt to exaggerate their educational qualifications, work experience, and skills to gain an advantage over others. This unethical approach not only undermines the chances of other deserving candidates but also poses potential work-related problems if the candidate is hired based on false claims. To ensure that a candidate’s identity, educational credentials, work experience, skills, and references are genuine, employers must conduct a comprehensive pre-employment screening.
Background check for hiring process
A background check is a process that involves investigating an individual’s past activities and records to verify their identity, employment history, criminal record, education, and other relevant information. Employers often conduct background checks on job candidates as part of the hiring process to ensure that they have a safe and trustworthy workforce.
Criminal records checks are used to determine if an applicant has a criminal history, including arrests, convictions, and any other criminal records. Employment verification checks are used to confirm an applicant’s work history, job title, and dates of employment at previous jobs. Education verification checks are used to confirm that an applicant has the educational qualifications they claim to have. Credit checks are used to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness, and reference checks are used to gather information about an applicant from their previous employers or other references.
How do employers verify employment history?
Background checks may include a variety of different checks, depending on the job and the employer’s requirements. Some of the most common checks include criminal records, employment verification, education verification, credit checks, and reference checks. These checks are usually performed by a third-party vendor who specializes in background checks.
Employers typically conduct background checks after extending a job offer, and the offer may be contingent on the results of the background check. It’s important to note that there are laws governing the use of background checks in the hiring process, and employers must follow these laws to avoid discrimination or other legal issues.
What can be revealed in a background check?
Background checks are an important part of the hiring process for many employers, and the results of these checks can have a significant impact on a candidate’s chances of being hired. A background check may reveal information that the employer finds concerning, which can cause them to reconsider the candidate’s suitability for the job.
In case a background check exposes your criminal record, the employer might doubt your eligibility for the job, particularly if the job involves working with vulnerable groups, handling sensitive information or money, or necessitates a high level of trust. Nonetheless, employers must comply with legal regulations when assessing criminal history and are prohibited from discriminating against candidates on the basis of specific protected features.
Background checks are frequently conducted by employers to obtain information about a candidate’s previous work history. Such a check can reveal information about an applicant’s employment history, including whether they have been terminated from past jobs or have a history of job-hopping, which means switching jobs frequently.
If a background check indicates that you have been fired from past employment or have a history of job-hopping, it can cause concern for the employer. They may question your reliability and commitment to the job, which are essential characteristics for most roles. Job-hopping can make it appear as though you are unable to commit to an organization or that you are a flight risk, which can be a significant concern for employers investing resources to hire and train you. If an employer sees that you have a habit of leaving jobs after short periods, they may assume that you won’t be a long-term asset to the company.
However, it’s worth noting that job-hopping may not always be an indication of a lack of commitment, as there may be valid reasons for changing jobs frequently, such as career development or personal circumstances. Therefore, it’s important to be transparent about your employment history and explain any legitimate reasons for changing jobs frequently.
If you have stated that you possess particular credentials or degrees, a background check may disclose that this information is untrue or that you have provided false information about your qualifications. This can harm your credibility and prompt the employer to question your honesty.
When you apply for a job, it’s common to list your educational qualifications and any degrees or certifications you’ve obtained on your resume or job application. If you claim to possess a certain degree or qualification, and it’s found out that you do not actually have that qualification, it can have significant negative consequences for your credibility and reputation with the employer.
Background checks are often conducted by employers to verify the accuracy of the information provided on resumes and job applications. These checks can include verifying educational qualifications, work history, criminal records, and more. If the results of a background check reveal that you have lied about your qualifications or provided false information, it can harm your credibility with the employer and create doubts about your trustworthiness.
For example, let’s say you claim to have a degree in a particular field, but the background check reveals that you do not have that degree or any relevant qualifications. This could lead the employer to question whether you have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the job effectively, or whether you have been dishonest about other aspects of your application.
In addition to damaging your credibility with the employer, providing false information about your qualifications can also harm your professional reputation more broadly. Other employers may be hesitant to hire you if they discover that you have lied on your resume or job application, and your dishonesty could become a topic of discussion in professional circles.
Therefore, it’s important, to be honest about your qualifications and experience when applying for jobs. If you lack certain qualifications, focus on highlighting other strengths and experiences that make you a strong candidate. Dishonesty is never a good strategy in the long run, and the risks of being caught simply aren’t worth it.
In some cases, employers may conduct a credit check as part of the background check for job candidates. A credit check involves obtaining a copy of a candidate’s credit report, which provides information about the individual’s credit history, such as payment history, debt balances, and credit inquiries.
Employers may conduct a credit background check to gain insight into a candidate’s financial stability and responsibility, especially if the job involves financial responsibilities or access to sensitive financial information. For example, a company hiring an accountant or financial analyst may be more likely to conduct a credit check than a company hiring a receptionist or customer service representative.
If a candidate has a poor credit history, such as a history of missed payments, defaults, or high levels of debt, this may raise concerns for employers. This is because financial instability can suggest that a candidate may be at risk of making poor financial decisions, or may be more susceptible to financial pressures or even fraud. These issues can be particularly relevant for roles that involve managing money, such as handling cash or managing financial accounts.
It’s important to note that not all employers conduct credit checks as part of the background check process, and there are legal restrictions on how credit information can be used by employers in making hiring decisions. However, if an employer does conduct a credit check and finds negative information, this can be a red flag that may impact the candidate’s chances of being hired. In some cases, candidates may be given an opportunity to explain the negative information or provide additional context, but this is not always the case. Therefore, it’s important for candidates to maintain good credit history and be prepared to explain any negative information if it arises.
Employers must follow certain legal requirements when conducting background checks, and they are not allowed to discriminate against candidates based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, gender, religion, or disability. If you believe that you have been unfairly impacted by a background check, you may have legal recourse.
What causes a red flag on a background check?
Certain types of criminal records, if not all, could present a risk to your organization and can be considered a red flag.
For example, if you operate an accounting firm, it would be unwise to employ an individual with a history of fraud or embezzlement. Similarly, individuals with a history of theft should not be responsible for managing inventory, and those with violent criminal charges should not be entrusted with working with children.
Conducting background checks for job-related convictions can help protect your company from liability in the event of an incident occurring at your workplace.
Furnishing false information
If the results of a background check reveal different employment or educational histories than what the applicant stated on their resume, this is a significant red flag that warrants further investigation. People usually lie when they feel under-qualified for the job or when they are trying to conceal something.
Even if the candidate has excellent qualities and credentials in some areas, the lie can reveal much about their character. Consider whether this is someone you want representing your company before proceeding with the hiring process.
Gaps in employment history
If a candidate’s resume contains significant gaps in employment, it is prudent to exercise caution. Such gaps may indicate the candidate’s inability to maintain a steady job.
To ensure your workforce comprises reliable, long-term team members, it is important to be wary of individuals who have had long periods of unemployment.
Moreover, a background check can reveal information about places of employment that the candidate may not have included on their resume. Although this is frequently due to innocent reasons, such as the past job being irrelevant to the current application, it could also imply negative actions taken at a previous workplace.
Too many short-lived jobs
When an individual has a history of frequently switching jobs, this may manifest on their resume or background check as brief, sporadic periods of employment at different organizations. These short tenures could suggest a lack of dependability, similar to extended gaps in employment.
While there may be legitimate reasons for brief stints at a company, such as seasonal or temporary contracts or internships, it is important to inquire about this trend in a candidate’s work history.
It is possible that the candidate had to relocate due to a family emergency out of state or encountered a serious workplace issue, such as harassment, that was not their fault.
If the candidate is unable to provide reasonable explanations for their short job tenure, it may not be advisable to hire them.
Poor credit history
Credit history encompasses a wide range of information, including previous places of employment, educational institutions, and other details. Credit reports can confirm an individual’s identity and provide a unique understanding of their financial life.
While financial stability may not be a primary criterion for some positions, it could be crucial for others. For example, would you want to hire an accountant who is unable to manage their own finances?
Failed drug tests
Although drug testing is not a standard component of the hiring process for most jobs, certain industries and government employment positions still require it. This is particularly true for positions that involve operating heavy machinery, where drug use could pose a significant danger or legal liability for the company. In such instances, failing a drug test is a significant warning sign that recruiters should not ignore.
What would make someone fail a background check?
If not handled with care, the red flags discussed above can make someone fail a background check. If you have a poor employment history, have lied on your resume, have inconsistencies on your resume, have a criminal history, failed a mandatory drug test, have received bad references from previous employers, have a poor credit history (where it matters), it will lead to failing your background check.
It’s crucial to note that the factors that could cause someone to fail a background check may vary widely depending on the employer or industry’s standards and criteria.
A background check is an important part of the hiring process that helps employers make informed decisions about who they hire. By conducting background checks, employers can protect their business, employees, and customers from potential risks, while also ensuring that they hire qualified and trustworthy candidates.
Overall, it’s important, to be honest and transparent during the hiring process and to be prepared for the possibility that a background check may impact your chances of being hired. By being upfront about your history and qualifications, you can help to build trust with the employer and increase your chances of being considered for the job.