Background Checks: 4 Red Flags

Trying to land a new job can be a challenge. But what is often overlooked is how difficult the employment arena can be from the other side of the interview desk. Companies looking to hire additional staff face risks and pitfalls in trying to find the perfect new team member.

Among those risks is the threat of a dishonest job candidate. Some prospective employees will exaggerate their credentials or, in extreme cases, make things up entirely to give themselves an edge in a competitive job market. For employers who fall victim and don't discover the truth, they risk hiring unqualified, untrained and dishonest new staff members -- which can be a dangerous proposition.

This is why it is absolutely crucial for any organization to include thorough background checks as an integral part of their hiring process. Whether conducted in-house or by a qualified third party, the pre- and post-employment screening process (background checks) should cover all the bases to verify a candidate's information. 

The following are just a few of the things that will raise red flags in a background check.

1) Employment gaps. Recent gaps in employment on a resume are fairly common, but the candidate should be able to provide a sound explanation, such as being off work for illness. Frequent employment gaps can signal a problem and may warrant caution on the part of the employer.

2) Educational "fluffing." Educational degrees, certifications and other achievements should be verified directly with the college, university or sanctioning body. Any discrepancies require an explanation from the the candidate, but be aware: claiming a degree that was not earned is a common scenario, unfortunately; and it is unlikely to end up on a resume by mistake. Such claims are an indication of dishonesty.

3) Poor financial history. Credit checks should be conducted (as allowed by law), and a poor credit history can indicate a risk factor for any employee. While it might not reflect dishonesty, at the least it could signal irresponsible financial behavior. The candidate should be given the opportunity to explain the problem, but the organization might see fit to avoid placing the individual in a position where they would handle financial matters for the organization.

4) Criminal history. Every pre-employment screening process should include a background check of the individual's criminal history, and serious crimes are an obvious red flag. Many fraudsters have been caught committing the same financial crime they perpetrated at a previous job just months or years before. Any criminal acts involving theft or fraud, in particular, should be weighed heavily in the background screening process.

At CRI Group, our experts know that the most effective pre-employment screening includes as many of the following checks as permitted by law in your jurisdiction:

  • Verify current & former address
  • Verify name, date-of-birth, national ID number
  • Credit checks
  • Background information on former employers
  • Analytic research of credential breaches
  • Bankruptcy checks
  • Criminal record checks
  • Civil litigation checks
  • Financial regulatory checks
  • Directorships & significant shareholdings
  • Professional qualifications & memberships
  • Criminal watch lists
  • Employment references

Hiring new employees doesn’t have to feel like a walk through a minefield. By conducting comprehensive pre-employment screening, any company can increase their protection from fraud and unethical behavior.