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Beware, 6 Types of Candidates Who May Escape Pre-employment Screening

Candidate background checks are an important part of the hiring process. Assuming you have developed a robust underlying process, these checks are straightforward to complete, and serve to protect the business from fraudulent job applications. However, the screening process is not perfect, and candidates can unfortunately slip through the cracks and not be properly background checked prior to being appointed. Beware these 6 candidate types who often evade the pre-employment screening process, sometimes at great detriment to the employer’s reputation.

1.Referred/Recommended Employees

Even with the current job advertising ecosystem, comprised of jobs boards and social media, research shows that the most popular way of finding new talent is word of mouth. This form of hiring can often be faster and cheaper than hiring through jobs board, which is why many employers financially incentivize word of mouth hiring with a referral bonus scheme. 

The risk here is that because referred employees are viewed as ‘friends’, employers can be lulled into a false sense of security, safety and familiarity with the employee, and therefore be tempted to forgo the normal background checking process as a result. The political awkwardness of having to vet a so called ‘friend’ can also sadly deter employers from doing the necessary pre-employment screening too. This is why referred employees can often evade background checking.

2.Senior staff

The disgraced ex-CEO of Yahoo, Scott Thompson and the senior NHS executive, Jon Andrewes are two recent high profile examples of senior staff who were hired, only later to be found to have lied on their CVs. This shows that it doesn’t matter how senior an employee is, they still need to be rigorously background checked. But, in many organizations, incoming bosses can be viewed as ‘untouchable’ and above the HR process. There may also be a presumption of honesty around them, particularly as they often have a very public profile. This ‘special’ status around senior candidates can again sadly deter employers from doing the necessary background checks.

3.International Staff

A recent article in people management revealed that about half of organizations are not screening international workers. Tania Bowers, general counsel at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, said in the article: “the UK is perhaps more relaxed than other business cultures when it comes to validating qualifications and university certificates.” A likely reason for this is that language and cultural barriers prevent employers from efficiently doing full international background screening and, as a result, screening corners are often cut.

4. Contractors

Contingent workers, (particularly in the IT sector), can often be parachuted in an emergency to help resolve a project delivery crisis. HR teams can be pressurized by impatient, stressed out hiring managers into rushing these ‘precious’ contractors, through screening processes so as not to cause any delays. As a result, background screening may be compromised or may not occur at all. This problem is further compounded if these contractors are hired into permanent roles without proper screening on the incorrect assumption that they’ve background checked when hired.

5. Volunteers

By law, volunteers must have a DBS check when working with children or vulnerable adults, but outside of this, many organizations have a pretty informal approach to hiring volunteers. Employers may feel uncomfortable imposing such checks on volunteers for fear of deterring them since they are working for free. This problem can be compounded if the volunteer is eventually hired as an employee and slips in without a background check because they are now a ‘trusted colleague’

6.Temp to Perm

Many organizations rely on agency provided references when taking on temporary staff, without checking first-hand whether these references meet or fall below their own organizational standards. This problem is compounded if the now ‘trusted temp colleague’ is taken on as permanent without standard background checks.

Be wary of factors such as nepotism, seniority, familiarity and management pressure which can all obfuscate, but in no way remove the need for diligent background checking in your organizations. If these disruptive forces are not kept in check, your background checking process will be compromised, and your organization will be exposed to all kinds of operational and criminal risk.


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