Jobs: Background checks are important when recruiting


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Fraudulent behaviour has become common, as many businesses have discovered, to their cost. Most commonly, fraud is intended to acquire money the individual is not entitled to at the company’s expense.

It may also be intended as a means of acquiring a job, as when academic qualifications or skills are claimed that the job applicant does not possess or academic or professional certificates are forged.

It is important, therefore, to run background checks on new job applicants and subject those whose jobs involve accounting or the handling of money to honesty tests, leading security company Safeguard has warned.

Safeguard’s Investigations Division conducts background checks on behalf of employers. It also offers truth verification tests using a Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) test.

Safeguard Investigations manager Steve Jennings said background checks have become important in today’s business world to ensure the right person with the necessary skills is hired. Incompetence or dishonesty can be costly for any company and damaging to the company’s reputation, he pointed out.

“Hiring the right applicant is critical for an organisation’s success and reputation. This is why many companies engage us to conduct background checks before taking on a new employee.

“Some also request us to conduct truth verification tests, particularly if the job is one where honesty is especially important,” he said.

“We use the VSA test ourselves to confirm the integrity of our own personnel at Safeguard, bearing in mind the importance of honesty within the security profession,” he added.

He said Safeguard Investigations background checks include a variety of areas, depending on a client’s requirements.

“Verifying the education and professional credentials that an applicant claims to hold is imperative. This includes the university or college of graduation, the year of graduation, and the qualifications the applicant holds. Checking for any criminal record is also important.

“We also carry out professional and personal reference checks to verify the applicant’s job performance in the light of the information he or she has submitted.

“In the case of personal references, the contacts provided by an applicant can also be used to verify other basic personal information seen on the curriculum vitae,” he added.

Mr Jennings pointed out that credit checks are important for people in accounting jobs or positions that involve handling significant amounts of money. Truth verification tests are also important for such positions.

“It is critical to check these records for evidence of possible scams or to see if the applicant is involved in any irrational credit behaviour,” he said.

“The Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) test that we use identifies stress in the voice as it passes through the voice folds in the throat when the person being tested responds to a question that has consequences and requires a yes or no answer.

“A lie is often embarrassing, humiliating, and shameful to get caught in, so lies tend to stand out in stress measurements.

“Unlike the polygraph that uses various body attachments to measure pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity, the VSA system employs a less invasive voice recording method to obtain its result.

“It automatically generates a score-able chart that is analysed by the operator,” he said.

“We carry out VSA tests for clients who want to find out the integrity and honesty of a job applicant or of employees in high-risk areas such as finance, till operating, cash offices, and transportation.

“Sometimes these tests are carried out as part of an investigation that we have been asked to conduct where there is suspicion of theft or fraud within a department,” he said.

He pointed out that hiring a dishonest person can be costly. Hence the benefits of background checks and, where appropriate, a truth verification test.

“Money lost through theft or fraud can seldom be recovered. A person who proves incompetent because he or she does not have the qualifications and experience claimed becomes a liability and may have to be replaced,” he said.

He also recommended that background checks be done when taking on new domestic staff.

“When we go to work we have no idea what those who work in our homes may be up to. We trust them to look after our property, to do their work in our absence, and often to look after our children. We trust them. Sometimes this trust may be misplaced.

“We may find items go missing from our homes. Our children may be mistreated. If we are hiring someone who previously was unknown to us, it makes sense to do background checks, follow up on references, and find out as much as we can to guide us in our decision as to whether to hire the person or not,” he said.