27 May 2015

Hire then fire: Who's slipping through your background checking net?

A couple of months ago I ranted I call BS on employer groups: Get better rather than want things to be easier about the whining of Australian employer groups, specifically the Ai Group and Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and their respective calls to make it easier to fire workers.

I suggested that these groups would be better off helping their respective members improve their own recruitment, induction, training, performance accountability and overall employee development.

Another recently released report has provided evidence of another way in which Australian employers might reduce the likelihood that they have to fire employees; through improving the background checking of potential employees before an offer of employment is made.

The most recent data available from international background checking company, First Advantage, suggests there is much to be gained in increasing the rigour of pre-employment checks.


  • Australia and New Zealand (26.94 percent) have consistently recorded the highest discrepancy rate across Asia Pacific, followed by Singapore (18.88 percent) and Hong Kong (16.38 percent).

    Comment:
    As the report states, this fact is mostly due to employers in Australia and New Zealand conducting, on average, a higher number of checks, compared to their  counterparts in other Asia Pacific countries.
  • Discrepancy related to employment history continues to be the highest at 54 percent in 2014. This is followed by education discrepancies at 21 percent.

    Comment
    : The incentive for any candidate to fudge their employment history is most likely due to the fact that this area has the greatest impact of any part of a candidate's resume, in terms of likelihood of being contacted for an interview. The type of person who feels little or no compunction to provide a resume that is both complete and accurate will also, most likely, be the type of person who can ‘talk a good game' in the interview and consequently win over interviewers with their engaging communication skills and stylish presentation.
  • Asia Paciļ¬c employers conducting 6 Checks and above are 12 times more likely to uncover a discrepancy as compared to those who conduct 2 Checks. Specifically the research revealed that 31% of the time a discrepancy was revealed when at least 6 checks were undertaken on a potential employee, compared to 12% of the time when 3 - 5 checks were undertaken and just under 4% when only one or two checks were undertaken on a potential employee.

    Comment:
    The type of candidate that will provide a resume that is either incomplete or inaccurate (or both) is counting on the fact that most employers will only do a basic amount of background checking. As a result the candidate will be able to do the necessary covering-of-tracks, fudging or obfuscation to get through one or two background checks. When six or more checks are completed the cracks in the back-story will most likely be revealed. (This is the same tactic detectives use to crack an accused's alibi - keep asking the person to repeat their alibi and, if it's a lie, the difficulty of remembering a made up story will soon lead to contradictions and holes in the narrative.)
  • Employers are increasing the number of checks for their candidates with 67 percent of all cases subjected to at least five checks in 2014, compared to 42 per cent percent in 2013.

    Comment:
    As the costs of a poor hire are becoming increasingly clearer (and larger) employers are waking up to the fact that the costs of background checking are, in fact, a very prudent and cost-effective insurance policy when making hiring decisions.
The nature of skill and cultural-fit assessment, in terms of whether a candidate will succeed or not in a role with your company, will never be 100 percent accurate, no matter what technology or human elements you use in your hiring process.

However, what you can be 99 percent sure about, is that the candidate is who he or she says they are, because in-depth (ie six or more checks) background checks have been completed by a person(s) skilled to do so.

What changes to your background checking process would lead to a much higher hiring success rate (even if you made no other changes to your recruitment process)?

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