How To Handle A Failed Background Check

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While conducting a search for a new employee, a routine background check can turn up a major red flag, such as an unreported conviction. More minor issues may be discovered as well, but all problems should be addressed before you make a hiring decision.

Embellishment versus lying

It is human nature to embellish the facts of our work background and the demands of previous jobs. However, you must be careful to catch outright lies – if an applicant says he has a degree in finance when he really has a bachelor’s in English, it may be time to move that application to the slush pile. You can easily review applications en masse with your company’s HR software.

You can easily verify institutional records by phoning a listed alma mater. While a simple slip – such as an applicant forgetting whether she began a position in April or May – is forgivable, a missing conviction or other serious omission is a warning sign of someone trying to circumvent your hiring practices.

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Contact references

If you are unsure of an applicant’s character, pay extra attention when contacting their listed references. If the applicant is going about the job search correctly, these people have been alerted beforehand that they may be contacted by your company in regards to the position. Be sure not to break any hiring laws in your discussion, but try to get a feel for the applicant’s background and to verify their resume. If a reference seems confused or unaware of something listed on the candidate’s application, that could be a sign that the applicant isn’t being completely honest.

Honesty matters

If you decide to reject an application, honesty really is the best policy. Whether you decide to inform them of your decision through form letter, email or phone call, simply explain to them that you won’t be moving their application forward in the hiring process. While it may be tempting to tell them that the position has been filled or that the company is “going in another direction,” honesty and transparency can be a valuable reputation to build. You can easily build a rejection form email which will save you time and effort when you need to let an applicant know that it won’t work out. While it may be tempting to just let contact with an applicant slip to signal your company’s disinterest, a form letter is more appreciated and courteous.

Hiring new employees can be a stressful, headache-inducing task. Between the mountains of applications, endless interviews and amateur detective work it takes to root out the good from the bad, you may feel like no applicant will work out. Keep searching though, stick to your best hiring guidelines and be honest with your applicants to build a strong reputation in the job-seeking community.

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Comments: 1

  • Thanks Grady, your advice here makes perfect sense. I guess, I’ll have to share your sentiments on honesty. What’s to gain from lies, anyway? Sooner or later, your employer will find out that you only talk the talk. I wonder what you think of making hiring decisions based on stuff a job applicant posted on social networks. Don’t you think that’s taking things too far? Would you rather classify this scenario as hiring discrimination though?

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