Background Checks

At some point, you will have to face the inevitability of recruiting new staff. It can be an exciting time, especially if it represents growth, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Research shows that background checks are failing employers. Several factors are causing this to happen, but there are solutions to these problems that plague recruitment agencies.


Vetting provider Core-Asset Verify found that background checks are becoming increasingly difficult and diluted with false information. It’s clear that candidates are lying about past employment history and criminal convictions. Out of a sample of over 400 checks between 2017-2018, only a shocking 53% of candidates passed without issues, with just under half failing or passing with concerns. But what are the significant problems that agencies are facing?

What you need to look out for

The sample during the past two years shows that the top reasons for failing to pass the vetting process include:

  • Discrepancies in qualifications relating to an award or grade – 34%
  • Discrepancies in employment dates and/or job titles – 25%
  • Unverifiable employment gaps of over three months – 22%
  • Unpaid County Court Judgements or Sheriff Court Decrees – 14%
  • Non-disclosed criminal convictions – 5%

Mike Stirton, director of Core-Asset Verify, identified that there are to key reasons that discrepancies in applications and CVs are on the rise.

“First, employers, in general, are becoming more stringent… Many companies have recognised the damage that can be done – both financially and reputationally – if they make the wrong hires,” Mike said. “This is especially the case across financial services, where the introduction of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime has increased the need for more enhanced criminal checks and regulatory referencing.

“Second – and perhaps most concerning – there appears to be growing mindset among applicants that it is acceptable to fabricate certain parts of their CV in order to impress employers and increase their chances of securing a job offer.”

What to do

Screening candidates is already a challenging process but more needs to be done to ensure that employers are hiring the right people. They should have peace of mind that they are hiring people who not only fit the job criteria but who are not lying, and quite clearly have the skills they say they do for the job.

Employment history

Reading through CV after CV might be laborious but going through it with a fine tooth comb once you have set aside appropriate candidates for a role is critical. It can save time, costs, and failure further down the line. If you’re unsure about their employment history, don’t gloss over it. Contact the candidate’s references and ensure that past work is legitimate.

If they have a LinkedIn account, look through it and check that employment matches up to their CV and what their references have told you. If there are gaps that seem strange, ask the candidate about it. While it might be a gap where they needed a break or were looking for work, it could be more than that.


Being thorough goes for qualifications, education, and training too. Use LinkedIn to help with this check; have a look through the recommendations section on their profile page. If you feel something doesn’t add up, request that candidates provide evidence of their achievements.

Criminal convictions

While a criminal history isn’t an immediate red flag, concealing it is. Finding out whether candidates have a criminal history or not, and what criminal activity, is critical. Although a DBS check can do this if a candidate is hired, it’s best to find the right individuals for a job now instead of hiring the wrong person and going through the entire process.