Let’s say you’re about to hire a new CFO. He’s been a CFO, comptroller, and vice president in the last 10 years at three different companies. All the right skills and qualifications are listed on his resume. He’s had several interviews, and he’s fantastic. He’s had the right answer to every question you’ve asked. You’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He seems perfect.
You can skip the background investigation on this guy, right?
No, I suppose not. That would be irresponsible. All employees get a background check that only includes address history, criminal search, and national sex offender search. So you do that. All of that information comes back, and he has nothing, not even a speeding ticket.
Do you hire him?
If it were my company, I’d get more information. I’ve been doing background investigations a long time, and I’ve seen this exact scenario go very badly.
It seems to be a common misperception that once a person reaches an executive level in a company, there’s suddenly beyond reproach. If they’ve made it this far, surely someone would have found a problem before now, right?
Not necessarily. You’re trusting that the previous company did a good background check and found nothing.
For this position, the limited background of address history, criminal search, and national sex offender seems insufficient. If this were our client, we would recommend a federal record search, education verification, and employment verification at a minimum. Federal records search gives us information about cases in federal court. For this position, we’re going to be primarily looking for bankruptcies, which are filed in federal court. Education verification. You may not require a degree for this position, but what you’re really checking is how honest they were with this piece of information on their resume. Employment verification. At a minimum, you should find dates of employment and position held at the last three jobs or for the last 10 years. If possible, get rehire status and salary information.
There are other things that might be important for this position, such as credit check, civil records search, reference interviews, and an internet/social media search. All of these are going to depend on what you feel is important for the position. The important thing to remember is that positions with greater responsibility need a better background check.