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Before you hire the perfect candidate, make sure they are!

by Kate Smedley Talent Solutions 

As it gets harder for employers to hire the talent they need, the temptation to skip background checks before formally confirming a job offer may be too much to resist. Learn from the mistakes of others. Your candidate may seem perfect but it’s essential that your hiring decision is based on more than ‘gut feel’. The Risk Advisory Group reports that CV inaccuracies and ‘blatant candidate lies’ are on the rise, up to 70% in the last year. Background checks are the vital final step in your recruitment process.

The importance of background checks

As we recently highlighted, 42% of UK companies fail to carry out background checks on prospective hires but they are essential for the following reasons:-

Ensure your candidate is eligible to work: 38% of companies don’t check the right of an employee to work in the UK. The penalty for hiring an illegal worker is a maximum of £20,000 per person if you cannot prove you carried out the correct checks.

Confirm there are no compliance issues: Compliance checks such as credit status and criminal records are essential for specific jobs but once in work, periodic checks are also necessary. Recent examples of theft include a recruitment agency defrauded of c£31,000 by an unsupervised member of staff, resulting in lost commission and bonuses for the remaining employees.

Ensure your workers are safe: For positions involving contact with vulnerable people, checks are mandatory, however, we recommend carrying them out on all of your prospective hires. Employers are expected to be increasingly more accountable for the actions of their employees. The Supreme Court this week ruled that supermarket chain Morrison’s was ‘vicariously liable’ for an employee attacking one of its customers.

Temporary workers should also be covered by your company's standard background checks. Even a ‘temporary’ bad hire impacts the bottom line, productivity and team morale.

NB : A LinkedIn profile review is not an effective background check!

Discrepancies reported by the Risk Advisory Group include false claims about qualifications, candidates with undisclosed CCJs and others fired from their previous job who claimed to have resigned.

Carrying out background checks

Initial pre-employment checks can be carried out in the form of online recruitment assessments during the candidate screening process, including integrated psychometric or personality assessments.

Requests for formal reference checks begin with onboarding, ie, as soon as your conditional job offer is accepted. For security, automate your reference checks through recruitment software with inbuilt links to DBS (Disclosure and Barring Services) and accredited credit checking agencies. Responses can be forwarded to nominated individuals within a company, particularly in the event of negative feedback.

In addition to automated checks, confirm a reference verbally to gain insight into a candidate’s character. When speaking to referees, keep conversations professional and objective, covering the following points:-

  • Confirm in what capacity they know your candidate.
  • Plan your questions carefully, focusing on the core skills and competencies as well as the key performance objectives of the job.
  • Confirm essential facts relating to your candidate, including dates of employment, position held and responsibilities. Ask for examples of their effectiveness in areas relevant to your vacancy. Depending on the status of your referee, you may only gain confirmation of essential facts due to company policy.
  • Allow the referee to speak without prompting or making suggestions. Remain impartial and don’t rush the call.
  • Conclude by asking them if they would re-employ your candidate if appropriate. The response will be informative.

All insight should be measured against the results of your formal background checks carried out through your recruitment software.

What to do if you discover a discrepancy on a CV

Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes candidates may have genuinely included some erroneous information in error. Discuss the issue with the hiring manager and address the problem with the candidate as soon as possible. You may still need to carry out additional checks as a result of your discussions to verify their claims and agree a suitable course of action.

Background checks are essential. Don’t leave your hiring to chance.

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