Looking for a job? Here’s the good news. If a company is conducting a background check on you then the chances of you getting the job are quite bright. By and large companies screen candidates that they are seriously interested in.
But, wait, it may be a bit premature to start celebrating, particularly if you at some stage made an exaggerated, or worse false, claim in your resume about your qualifications or professional record. Your background check will throw up that information and from being a top contender for the job you will soon see your chances go up in smoke.
Moral of the story. For job aspirants: be transparent and squeaky clean about your abilities, or lack of them. For employers: engage the services of a professional background screening company to make the right hire.
I often meet people who ask me what the background screening business is all about and prepare themselves for an extended spiel. My response lasts a few short sentences. For there is nothing complex, much less esoteric, about the background screening business. The idea is to determine whether or not applicants are telling the truth about their past—career, education and identity.
Let me, however, of my own volition complicate matters a little bit and talk about the benefits of background screening in intangible terms. There are six benefits that straightaway come to mind.
Identity check is the very bedrock of background screening. If you are not who you claim you are, there is little point conducting any further check. Cases of impersonation or assumed identities are not uncommon. So, to begin with, it needs to be established that Ajay Trehan is who he says he is. In India confirming an individual’s identity is becoming simpler with documents like passport and PAN cards and, most significantly, Aadhar, the unique identification system for which enrollment has crossed Rs 105 crores.
Your accessibility is established through an address verification process. Do you stay where you say you stay? How long have you been staying there? Do your neighbours know you? This is done principally through site visits by agents.
Companies looking to fill a key position want the answer to one basic question: does the candidate fit the bill? The answer to that question lies in thoroughly checking education and employment details provided by the candidate, along with validating everything stated in then CV. This is in essence at the heart of what backgrounds screeners do.
Reputation is intangible, yes. But individuals, and corporations, often stand and fall by way of their reputation, which is best defined as a widespread belief that someone has a particular characteristic. Web and media searches can to some extent reveal an individual’s reputation. These searches also throw up particular associations and affiliation of an individual.
Criminal verification is, of course, one check that every employer wants. The last thing they would want is to unwittingly employ someone with a criminal history. Given the complexities of our legal system, checking criminal records is not at all simple.
You want to know about the integrity levels of the person you are set to employ from those he or she has worked with in the past. A person’s integrity is established through professional and personal references. In their haste to close an open position, talent recruiters do at times give reference checks a miss but that can be costly. Skeletons in the cupboard, if any, tend to tumble out during a reference check. That is my experience. Especially, if the company does not dutifully call only those two or three people whose names have been provided by the candidate. Also, drug abuse checks, initiated through blood, urine or hair samples, help establish a candidate’s integrity.
In conclusion, background screening is simple enough but conducting rudimentary checks merely for compliance reasons by HR folks—and this unfortunately is often the case—is most unlikely to yield the results you need. You need a fair idea of the person who is going to join your organization and become your brand ambassador. Hire a crook and your brand will suffer. Irretrievably so.