December 8, 2015

Five Things Background Checks Don’t Tell You (that you need to know)

You probably run a background check on your employment candidates. After all, you don’t want to hire someone with an undisclosed criminal record, so the check is simply sensible risk-management practice.
But the fact is, a background check only tells you about the people who got caught.

Preventing dishonest employees

What about the people who haven’t gotten caught? The ones who are a bit smarter, a bit faster, a bit more cautious in their behavior?
Here are five things background checks won’t tell you about your candidates.

  1. If you’re in retail, you know about inventory shrinkage. Obviously customer shoplifting is a big part of shrinkage – but did you know that employee theft is only slightly less expensive for you than shoplifting: 34.5% versus 38% for shoplifting? (These numbers are from the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Security Survey.)
    Hayes International’s report on theft recoveries for 2014 reveals that preventing one employee’s theft yields 16% more bottom-line benefit than preventing one shoplifter’s theft. In other words, one dishonest employee steals more than six times as much as one shoplifting customer.
    Clearly, focusing on employee theft prevention yields high returns on your investment. And a background check won’t tell you anything about whether an employee with no black marks on record is likely to the one-in-38 employee who steals from you.

  1. If you make a habit of picking up the phone to talk with your job applicants’ references, congratulations. Surprisingly, many organizations just don’t bother, or else they rely on email instead of a phone call.
    Having an actual conversation with someone who knows your applicant means you hear the nuances of tone and word choice, and you can ask follow-up questions if something seems not quite right.
    And once again, you’ll learn things about your candidate that will never be revealed by a background check.

  1. Different people respond differently to different levels of stress. If you’re hiring for a high-pressure job, especially if the job has a lot of visibility and significant levels of responsibility, you need to be aware that this type of ongoing stress can bring out behaviors that probably weren’t present during the interview process.
    A background check doesn’t reveal a person’s tendencies under pressure. However, a statistically-valid integrity check can show you where someone falls on the scale of work philosophies and conscientious behavior.

  1. The cost of employee reliability – or lack thereof! – goes well beyond theft of goods (paper and pens from your supplies closet or merchandise from your retail operation). Reliability also includes whether an employee is, quite simply, inclined to be on time … or late. Chronic lateness in just a few of your employees deducts tens of thousands from your bottom line – and that doesn’t include the impact to on-time employees’ morale, engagement, and productivity.
    No background check will tell you if someone is likely to be chronically late, or to take extra-long lunch hours and leave early – but a good integrity survey can reveal these tendencies and more.

  1. Ethical behavior is crucial for employees at all levels and in all industries. We only have to look at past scandals to know that ethical violations can bring a company down almost overnight. While we may look at organizations and individuals such as Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, Bernie Madoff, and other household names of ethical shame and think, “That could never happen here!”, the truth is that one high-placed unethical or excessively risk-taking employee actually can cause significant problems for any company of any size in any industy.
    A background check doesn’t reveal ethical values or risk-taking tendencies – but a good integrity assessment does.

The background check is a valuable tool in your employment tool-box, and it shouldn’t be the only tool. When combined with drug testing, reference-checking, and good integrity and job-fit testing, you exponentially increase your chances of making consistently good hires.

Want to know more about integrity testing? Contact us today to learn about how we can help in your hiring process!