Red Flags to Look for During an Employee Background Check

A study by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) revealed that in 2018, 95% of employers in the USA conducted employment background screening. Conducting background checks on employees has become a prevalent practice among many businesses. It’s important to note that carefully assessing the results of the background screening is also a critical step for protecting your organization. Employers should keep an eye out for potential red flags during the background check process, such as criminal convictions relevant to the job, fabricated employment or education history, discrepancies in personal information, or negative professional references. Identifying these warning signs can help employers make informed hiring decisions and avoid costly consequences.

Here are some common red flags to keep an eye out for in the background check process.

Does Not Give Permission for a Background Check

You must obtain an applicant’s or employee’s permission before conducting a background check. Consider it a red flag when a potential employee refuses to have their background checked. Should this happen, consider explaining why you need to run a check. You could also mention how knowing this information helps determine their suitability for the job. The explanation could convince them to consent to the background screening. However, continued refusal can prove a cause for concern.

Gaps in Job History

It is good to note gaps in a candidate’s employment history, but such detail does not always indicate a red flag. For example, such intervals could indicate difficulties obtaining or keeping a job, but it could also happen because they took time to care for children or a sick loved one. In some cases, they might have attended school or obtained job training. Employers should inquire about such gaps and explain the importance of honesty.

Lack of Honesty About Previous Jobs

Employers may find that job applicants regularly exaggerate their past job duties on applications or resumes. Though not often a problem with minor exaggerations, employers should watch for outright lies about previous jobs or job duties. Promptly discuss the issue to ensure no misunderstandings. Addressing it immediately, especially after making a job offer, could reveal the candidate’s qualifications.

Poor References

Sometimes, poor references happen due to personal issues or situations outside the candidate’s control. However, several contacts voicing similar complaints can become a red flag. Therefore, employers should prove thorough when vetting candidates. They should also allow the candidate a chance to explain, encouraging honesty to prevent misunderstanding.

Criminal History

Employers may find it crucial to run criminal background checks during the hiring process. Companies could face lawsuits and avoidable liabilities if they fail to check for criminal history and the employee later commits a crime. However, such concerns should not prevent you from hiring applicants with criminal backgrounds.

Employers may find that some cities or states restrict when they can conduct criminal background checks. They may also run into regulations about how they may use the information. Regardless of these regulations, employers should conduct thorough background checks on all candidates. Knowing whether the candidate’s criminal history is relevant to the position may prove vital.

Final Thoughts 

Employers should look for potential red flags when considering a job candidate, which could indicate they do not fit the company’s needs. This article discussed several red flags to watch for, but employers should know this is not a complete list. In addition, the list can differ from employer to employer.

As such, the best way to choose the right applicant for you is by partnering with a trustworthy background check company. The right partner will perform a thorough background check based on your company’s needs, ensuring you know potential relevant issues with a candidate’s past.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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