Category Archives: Background Checks

Background Checks for Contract Employees, Quirky Question # 98

Quirky Question # 98:

We hired another company (we’ll call it Company ABC) to provide our firm with contract employees.  Company ABC performs background checks on its employee pool, utilizing publicly available sources of information.

We typically use a third-party vendor to perform background checks on the employees we hire, but we do not do so for the contract employees provided to us by Company ABC.  A contract employee we hired through Company ABC recently stole our property.  It turns out the employee had multiple arrests for similar crimes, which were not revealed by Company ABC’s background check.  We are confident that this information would have been revealed had we used our normal third-party vendor.

We have decided that in the future, we would prefer to use our own third-party vendor to perform background checks on the contract employees provided to us by Company ABC.  Is there any reason we cannot do so? Answer→

Using Internet for Background Check, Quirky Question # 72

Quirky Question # 72:

I am the HR Manager for a Minnesota-based defense contractor.  A few weeks ago, I received a general e-mail inquiry regarding employment opportunities with our company, along with an attached resume, from a person I will call Joe Hunter.  Normally, I would simply delete such an e-mail, as my company does not accept or respond to employment inquiries made outside of our job posting system.  However, 25 years ago I graduated high school with someone named Joe Hunter and I was curious whether this might be the same person.

I also happened to have a couple of open positions at the moment, so I figured there was a business reason, beyond just my personal curiosity, to open the attached resume.  Unfortunately, the resume did not list high school, but it did suggest that Mr. Hunter might actually be qualified for one of our job openings.  I was still curious, though, whether this was my former high school classmate.  So, I decided to run “Joe Hunter” through a popular Internet search engine.

The search results lead me to a personal page on a popular social networking site for Joe Hunter, including personal data, pictures, and extensive blog entries.  I discovered that Joe Hunter was a younger-looking, African-American man, not the same Joe Hunter I knew in high school.  I also noticed that one of Mr. Hunter’s blog entries described how he was detained by police following a recent anti-war protest.

Since this was not the Joe Hunter I knew from high school and since our company policy does not accept unsolicited resumes anyway, I simply deleted the e-mail I had received from Joe Hunter.  It also occurred to me that we run background checks on all candidates after they receive a contingent offer of employment as part of our normal hiring process.  It is unlikely that Mr. Hunter would be able to pass such a check given his arrest record, and, in any event, I questioned why someone who participates in anti-war protests would be interested in a position with our company.

I know from various surveys I’ve seen that as many as 25-50 percent of companies use the Internet as a source of information in the hiring process.  But I recently attended a conference on the Fair Credit Reporting Act and am concerned that I should have gotten some sort of release from Mr. Hunter before I reviewed information about him from an external source.  What are your thoughts? Answer→

Unauthorized Job References, Quirky Question # 27

Quirky Question # 27:

We recently terminated our Controller.  We had concerns about the way in which he was managing his department.  Certain funds (not an insubstantial amount) were not accounted for and our firm’s accounting records designed to track various purchases and expenditures were largely inscrutable.  We lost a lot of money due to these problems.  My perception is that he was either incompetent, or, possibly, dishonest.  Despite that fact, we terminated him without cause.

I just learned that several weeks ago, he asked our CFO to write him a job reference and our CFO did so.  None of us in the Law Department had a chance to bless this recommendation before it was provided to our ex-Controller.  I recently obtained a copy of the reference and it’s quite enthusiastic (perhaps an understatement by me).  This situation makes me somewhat uneasy on a couple of levels.  Are my anxieties misplaced or is this something I should worry about? Answer→

Quirky Question # 26, Background Checks

Quirky Question # 26:

We are desperately trying to hire someone for a position we have had open for far too long.  Perhaps our standards have been too high because we haven’t been able to find the right candidate.  I recently interviewed a very impressive candidate and would like to extend him an offer.  I have not been successful in tracking down some of his references.  Moreover, there appear to be a few gaps in his employment history.  My intuition tells me to slow down but I do not want to lose this applicant.  How important is it to pin down all of the relevant background information? Answer→