There’s a reason that 96 percent of employers conduct at least one type of background check. It’s not only required in some cases, it’s just plain good business practice.
Background screening helps ensure hiring managers that a candidate’s application is truthful, that they are qualified for the position, and serves as a key measure of due diligence when it comes to promoting workplace safety.
Can’t we just rely on our gut instinct to make the best hiring decisions? Aren’t all background checks the same?
Sadly, the answer is no.
Here are five examples of what can go wrong when employers either fail to perform background checks, try to cut corners, or neglect to work with a high quality background screening company.
1. The Embellished Resume
In 2012, an executive was hired as the CEO of one of the largest tech companies around. His resume indicated he had degrees in both accounting and computer science. Upon investigation, a major shareholder of the company discovered that the newly hired executive did have a degree in accounting, but not one in computer science.
Just four months into his new job, the executive was ousted by the company. “If (the employee) embellished his academic credentials, we think that it undermines his credibility as a technology expert and reflects poorly on the character of the CEO,” wrote the board member.
2. The Drivers with Past Driving Offenses
In 2018, a Texas jury awarded a $101 million verdict to a man following a personal injury trial. The driver of an oil service company struck the back of the plaintiff’s pickup truck when he was on his way home from church. Though he survived the crash, the plaintiff underwent spinal surgery and was no longer able to work as a crane operator due to his injuries. In the course of the trial, it was revealed that the company driver had received at least three traffic violations in the three years prior to being hired. He also admitted to using methamphetamine and marijuana “pretty consistently” in the months prior to the accident.
A criminal conviction alone is not automatically disqualifying. However, when the nature of the conviction is directly related to the safety and performance of the specific role, as it was in this case, a proper background screen – including a criminal records check and drug screen — might have disqualified this candidate from employment with the oil company.
3. The Pastor with a Shady Past
Conducting a background check is a must when hiring someone who works with children as a component of their job. Yet somehow a small church in Vermont failed to do so when it hired a new pastor for the congregation. During the hiring process, the church did not ask — and the new pastor did not divulge — that he had been previously convicted of sexually exploiting a teenage girl while working as a teacher at a Christian school in an adjacent state.
4. The Non-Existent College Degree
Multiple high-profile executives have been exposed for adding fictitious degrees to their resumes. In September of 2014, the vice president of corporate communications for a major big box chain resigned after it was discovered that he had not, in fact, received a bachelor of arts degree from a university, as his résumé stated. He claimed he “didn’t remember” what he had put on his resume and defended his actions by saying he was only “a few credits shy” of the degree.
The CEO of a major luggage manufacturer frequently referred to himself as a doctor and claimed a PhD in business administration, despite never completing the program. Upon learning of the sham, the company put out the following statement in 2018, “the Board thoroughly reviewed the facts related to this allegation and has determined that accepting (the CEO’s) resignation is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.”
5. The Caregiver with a History of Assault
In 2017, a family sued a nursing home in Texas for $1 million for the negligent hiring of a 23-year-old employee with previous arrests for fraud, marijuana possession, and criminal mischief. The employee was caught on video physically assaulting an 83-year-old resident, who had advanced Alzheimer’s disease and could barely move, talk, or understand what was going on around her.
The Impact of a Flawed Hiring Process
The unfortunate reality is that people embellish resumes, fail to report prior convictions, and find other ways to con the system. These tactics are so prevalent that 75 percent of HR managers have caught a resume lie.
Failure to implement a quality background screening program to catch these anomalies can lead to serious consequences for employers. Reputations can be tarnished, sales can plummet, or the business may even have to close.
With so many options for conducting quality background checks, there’s no excuse for not taking the necessary steps to protect your workplace, employees, and customers.