Executive Background Checks: Why They Are Necessary And What Checks Are Included

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Executive background checks dig deep into the candidate’s credentials and professional history. They help ascertain whether the candidate for a high-level position can be trusted to make executive decisions and access sensitive corporate information. 

What Are Executive Background Checks? 

Executive background checks go beyond the standard employee screening as it’s reserved for executive hires or candidates recruited for upper-level management positions. These roles typically involve leadership responsibilities that steer the direction of the organisation. Some examples of the titles for executive hires include:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Operations Officer (COO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) 
  • Legal Head
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Executive background screening provides a deep dive into the professional - and even personal history - of the candidate, painting a comprehensive picture of their suitability for a crucial leadership role. 


Why Are Executive Background Checks Necessary? 

Since the stakes are high, board members and investors usually require executive background checks for top-level candidates. Below are the reasons why they are necessary:

To protect the company’s reputation

It may be hard to believe, but it is not only regular employees who lie during the application process. It turns out that business executives also falsify their credentials and qualifications. David Tovar, former vice president of corporate communications for Wal-Mart, and ZenLedger’s COO Dan Hannum are just a few examples. 

Catching a top-level executive on a lie can result in damaging media coverage and tarnish the company’s credibility. After all, these leaders often represent the company to the public.   

To build trust

A thorough background check demonstrates a commitment to hiring trustworthy leaders, increasing employee and stakeholder confidence.

To protect company assets and information

Upper-level management has access to various assets and confidential information. An in-depth executive background check process can minimise the risk of misusing company resources and helps protect the company’s intellectual property. 

To minimise risks

Executive background checks include a comprehensive investigation of a candidate’s credit history, which helps reduce the risk of fraud and embezzlement. Likewise, these checks uncover past legal issues or regulatory violations that can expose the company to legal risks and reputational damage.

To help the business succeed

Vetting individuals at the highest levels strengthens the entire leadership team, leading to better decision-making and company performance.


Executive Background Check Process: What Are Its Inclusions? 

In most cases, the executive background check process involves:

Complying with the relevant laws and regulations

Before anything else, make sure that you are complying with the relevant laws on background checks. Some of the laws you need to follow include data protection laws, anti-discrimination acts, and ban-the-box laws. 

Determining the screening criteria

Next is the establishment of the screening criteria. These include the types of background checks you need based on the position and the industry. 

Collecting the necessary information

The next step is to collect all the information you need, like their name, contact information, employment history, and educational attainment. These, which are often written in their CV or resume, become the basis for your checks. 

Engaging the HR department or partnering with a background check provider

If you’re conducting the checks on your own, start engaging your HR Department. You may also partner with a dedicated background screening platform, like Veremark, to run the checks for you. 


Conducting the checks

Begin with the checks or provide your requirements to the background screening provider. In many cases, the following are included in executive background checks:

  • Identity verification can reveal basic details, such as their legal name, date of birth, current address, and security number. Note that ID checks serve as the foundation for all the other checks. 
  • Education verification. You might be surprised to learn that many candidates for high-level positions falsify their degrees and GPA, therefore any inconsistencies in education records must be scrutinised. 
  • Employment history. In their application, candidates may embellish their skills, add to their years of experience, and even lie about the institutions they worked in. Hence, on top of verifying their work experience, you might also want to conduct reference checks
  • Credit verification. It’s important to check if the candidate has significant credit problems or if they have trouble managing their finances. This is of particular importance if they have fiduciary responsibilities. 
  • Criminal history and civil records should also be investigated to protect your business. Note that this can be a challenge if the candidate has both local and global employment history. 
  • Social media checks may reveal potential red flags in the candidate’s social and professional activities. Checking their socials is an essential part of executive background screening because should they be hired, they would represent the organisation to the public. 

Of course, depending on the role and policy, you may need additional checks, such as motor vehicle records checks or drug tests. 

Evaluate and analyse findings

Finally, evaluate the findings and weigh them against your criteria for the executive hire. This step is called adjudication. Any red flag should be looked into in detail, but don’t forget to allow the candidate to explain their side. 


Trust Veremark For Your Executive Background Checks

While it’s possible to conduct executive background checks on your own, it might be better to partner with a dedicated screening service. 

Often, HR professionals are under immense pressure to hire executive candidates immediately. This increases the risk of a superficial or rushed screening process. Moreover, since it seems highly unlikely for an executive to reach their current professional status by lying about their credentials, they might even be exempted from the screening altogether. Finally, internal screening may be made complicated if the top candidates come highly recommended by another top exec from the organisation. 

For these reasons, it may be best to collaborate with a background screening platform like Veremark. We can conduct in-depth and extensive screening to ensure that your executive hires have the credentials and qualifications they say they have. Our criminal, civil, and social media checks can also help protect your company and prevent corporate scandals. 

To order checks, you simply need to provide us with the candidate’s details and your requirements - we’ll handle the rest and deliver the results so you can make an informed hiring decision.

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What are executive background checks?

Executive background checks are thorough investigations into the professional and personal history of high-level executives, vetting factors such as employment history, financial stability, legal records, and reputation to ensure credibility and suitability for leadership roles.

How do executive background checks differ from standard employment checks?

Executive background checks differ from standard employee checks by vetting their leadership competence, reputation in the industry, and financial stability. They also provide a more comprehensive assessment tailored to the specific demands and responsibilities of high-level executive roles.

What are the consequences of skipping executive background checks?

Skipping executive background checks can lead to significant consequences, including potential legal liabilities, financial risks, damage to company reputation, and the increased likelihood of appointing leaders with undisclosed issues or ethical concerns, jeopardising the overall success and stability of the organisation.


What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

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The guide to ROI on background screening

How do you prove the worth of a background screening program?

Introducing a background screening program into your organization usually means proving its potential benefits to the company’s bottom line. While some checks may be mandatory or industry policy, others may not be - but these are the checks that can provide real-world advantages to how your organization grows and prospers.

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The 'soft' benefits of employee screening on your workforce

The harder, more tangible benefits - and how to measure them

A model and hypothesis based on a medium-sized business

The improvements to expect when you start screening your candidates

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