Little lies point to someone who has something to hide
First, if you require submission of printed materials (i.e., transcript, certificates, license) are these originals or certified copies? Is the school reputable or a "diploma mill?" For professionals, are there any outstanding disciplinary actions (state boards offer lists online)? Any adverse "press" stories filed under this person's name? Compare their application against their "online" presence for
Facebook/Classmates/LinkedIn or Blogs. Any discrepancies? Little lies told in the interview process are red flags for deception and fraud. Any tax liens or criminal complaints? County/City records are public records and can tell if the person has problems with the law, or in paying utilities/phone/taxes. Any problems in these areas can quickly spill over into the work place. Any problems with finances adds to the risk of fraud, especially if the job deals with handling cash or financial information.
Questions to ask the listed references
Second, you ask the applicant to provide references, so take the time to call each one. Ask: How long have you known X, and in what circumstances? Would you hire X to____(run your store, watch your kids, make widgets, fly a plane?) If not, why not? If X worked for you, what were X's best and worst traits? Did X accomplish___(check claims against resume)? Would you rehire X? If not, why? Is there anyone else that can tell me about X's performance? If they give a name that is not listed by the reference, call and assure that person their responses will be confidential. If references decline to provide info/ "I can only confirm that X worked here" or refer you to HR, chances are there were problems that X doesn't want you to know about. Give X a chance to explain or move on to the next candidate. If the references are "too glowing" that may be a red flag that X only asked friends to vouch for them. Ideally, you want a balanced & fair assessment of what the candidate has done.
High Risk jobs? Hire a professional to complete the picture - it will be money well spent.
For positions of trust and high-risk environments, it is worth the cost of hiring a pro to run a full criminal/credit/public records check. Under Privacy law, get the applicant's permission/waivers for certain checks, such as health records, IF the job has a JOB-RELATED REQUIREMENT. Don't ask for information that isn't related to the job duties. Private investigators, Certified Fraud Examiners, and small law firms will take on these jobs for a modest fee. Some headhunting firms may do background checks but ask how they do it and what information is included in their screening. Before you make final job offers, you want to stipulate that any application info that later turns out to be falsified may be grounds for immediate dismissal. If you found this guide useful, please mark the box below. Thanks and good luck in your hiring decisions.
Additional resources provided by the author
THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION AND CREDIT. PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE MAY BE OBTAINED BY CONTACTING THE AUTHOR. Richard Woodford, J.D., CFE