“Never judge a book by its cover.”

That’s a common saying that’s been around for many generations. In terms of recruitment, it means something very unique. When it comes to selecting the best candidates to work for your business, going deeper than just face value should be a routine practice.

Uncover the Truth with Background Checks

First and foremost, in a more competitive job market, individuals are more apt to embellish or hide certain aspects of their histories in order to appear more attractive to recruiters. While some of these actions are fairly obvious to the trained recruiter, not all will be easy to spot until the background check takes place. A background check should include all of these elements:

  • Work history and educational verification prior to interviews taking place
  • Drug test conducted by a third-party administrator before a formal job offer made
  • Criminal background check to include the required level of clearance (civilian vs. government)

Why the Background Check is Important

Fortunately, background screening and criminal background checks are available to recruiters and human resources professionals. Employers today have the right to learn more about the candidates they are about to commit to a legal relationship with. They also have the right to ensure that a potential new hire does not have anything lurking in their past that could potentially harm the business or create a safety hazard for clients and other employees.

From government to private security establishments to corporate organizations, educational institutions, recruitment of medical professionals, teachers, care-givers, domestic helps, drivers, child adoption amongst others, the importance of background screening cannot be overemphasized. In terms of national security, the absence of a diligent criminal background check, poor records management and paucity of a comprehensive national criminal database updatable in real-time makes it very easy for say a dismissed police officer, public official, a criminal, terrorist to (re)enlist in the security, intelligence agencies. In 2015, a Lagos nanny – Mary Akinloye kidnapped 3 children of the same family under her care and demanded a N15 million ransom. In Abeokuta, Ogun State, a nurse – one Miss Maureen allegedly conspired with others to kidnap the son of her boss, a medical doctor whom she worked with in the past.

Also in Lagos, four employees of a company allegedly kidnapped their Chinese boss. Now the problem is, given lack of diligent prosecution and a comprehensive criminal database in Nigeria, it is plausible that some of the above-mentioned culprits will not go scot-free, ‘rebrand’ their identities and possibly re-offend. Trusting, hiring or delegating certain responsibilities or doing business with someone, organization(s) you don’t know from Adam is fraught with risks. This is why criminal background check is very important.

  1. It Eliminates And Discourages Forgeries, Fraudulent Claims: Crime, malfeasance and employment fraud is not just a Nigerian thing. According to a UK firm – Experian, ‘’in 2013, employment screening helped to detect a 70% increase in false employment applications’’.Inter-alia, the report went further to say, ‘’employment application fraud accounted for over 50% of all internal frauds recorded in 2013, employee fraud costs UK companies an estimated £2bn a year, that 90% of application fraud is unsuccessful with background screening, an estimated 20-50% of candidates embellish their credentials on CVs, 15% of candidates back out of an application when told a background check is required, 27% of applicants have given false references and 11% of candidates have falsely claimed to have a degree ,three quarter of UK employers hire the wrong people, costing the UK economy £12bn a year, more than 40% of property letting agents reported an increase in tenants struggling to meet rental payments’’. In a 2014 Global Fraud Study, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) estimates that globally, businesses lost approximately $3.7 trillion to fraud. It is reported that about ‘’33% of Nigerian graduates brandish fake credentials’’.
  1. Background Screening Eliminates or Reduces Likelihood of ‘’Insider Threat’’: A dangerous security trend is that which stems from insiders or what is called ‘’insider threat’’ in cybersecurity parlance. Remember Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden? Recently, a telecom provider in Germany reportedly ‘’notified 2 million of its customers that their financial information may have been compromised after a highly sophisticated intrusion by an insider’’.
  1. Background Check Can Forestall Negligent Hiring Lawsuit: The upswing in negligent hiring lawsuits also necessitates stringent background screening prior to employment. An employer may be liable if an employee’s actions hurt someone (workplace violence, rape, terrorism etc). For instance, it recently emerged that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a deliveryman who deliberately rammed his truck and killed about 84 people in Nice, France recently, had a long history of violence and mental illness. Such security threats and liabilities obligate employers to take reasonable care in ascertaining whether an applicant/employee has a criminal or violent past.

 In the United States, in 1999, ‘’Trusted Health was ordered to pay $26.5 million dollars to the family of a murdered patient. U.S. courts declared, “prior to the time the employee is actually hired, the employer … should have known of the employee’s unfitness” and is liable if they did not perform an adequate background investigation. It is estimated that United States employers ‘’lose 72% of all negligent hiring lawsuits’’.

  1. Other advantages of background checks are: It encourages honesty, reduces employee theft and fraud, increases productivity, reduces workplace violence and insurance premiums, ensures the best gets the job thereby saving money and time that will be spent recruiting new staff and training them. (Credit: Don Okereke)

Conducting background checks are not just an option anymore in recruitment – they are a necessary part of being a responsible recruiter who wants to provide the very best candidate to each client every time.

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