What Does a Red Flag Mean on Your Background Check?

To represent and lead a company, the best of the best is expected. Hiring a new employee can be difficult, and conducting a background check as part of the hiring process can make it even more difficult. While no one is perfect, factual issues will cause managers to not consider a candidate.

What constitutes a red flag can vary by company and position, but the most common red flags are criminal records, discrepancies, and derogatory comments. Understanding the most common red flags in background checks and how they affect a candidate’s qualifications will help you hire the best person for the job and your company.

There are a number of red flags to watch out for. Each of them may indicate that you should choose a different candidate.

#1 Multiple Intervals of Unemployment

Career gaps are not uncommon, and several employees may have periods of unemployment on their resume. They may have changed careers, fallen ill, or taken time off to care for a loved one. However, if unemployment seems to be a pattern in the applicant’s history, you may need to investigate further. Multiple gaps in employment could indicate that the candidate is difficult to work with, is unpredictable, or is otherwise having trouble keeping a job.

#2 Considerable Short-Lived Jobs

Similar to multiple unemployment, a person with many short-lived jobs could also be a cause for concern. While seasonal or short-term jobs are perfectly fine and provide an incredible amount of experience, someone who is constantly moving from job to job might not be a good fit for your company. It could be a sign that he’s been laid off or forced to resign, or that he’s easily bored or unhappy with his role. You want your companies to invest in reliable, consistent employees, and this category of candidate will almost certainly not meet those goals.

#3 Inconsistency in Experience or Education

One of the most common warning signs in a background check is inconsistencies. If a background check reveals different information than what the applicant provided on their resume, you should get to the bottom of it. While many applicants embellish their resumes to make themselves look as promising as possible, once these exaggerations turn out to be fraudulent, you need to be careful. Even if the applicant has the right qualifications in other areas, you need to scrutinize this insight into their nature in the future.

#4 Missing Past Jobs

Fake experience on a resume is wrong, but the opposite should also be a cause for concern. Applicants need to be on their best behavior when looking for a job, but the lack of relevant jobs means they may be trying to hide something about those positions. Your potential employee might have a justification for the missing information, but it’s also a good idea to follow up on these previous positions to get as much data as possible.

#5 Criminal Record

Probably the most important part of any background check is checking an applicant’s criminal record. Arrests do not necessarily equate to convictions, and years-long or minor incidents may just be the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While such criminal records are not a cause for concern in and of themselves, if the candidate lies on the application or in the interview, you should think twice about hiring them. A sincere applicant who takes the time to clarify the situation is more trustworthy than one who lies about his or her criminal record.

#6 Job-Relevant Convictions

While minor convictions or incidents that occurred years ago may not be a red flag, consider how an applicant’s criminal record could affect the job in question. How a past criminal offense will affect the job and the company is much more critical than the timing and severity of the conviction.

#7 Failed Drug Tests

You can require a drug test if the job involves operating machinery, driving a vehicle, or other activities where the employee cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A failed drug test is crucial because it suggests that the applicant could endanger your customers or other employees.

#8 Social Media

Another means of discerning an applicant’s identity is to look at their social media profiles. While it’s an unethical business strategy to exclude someone based on their political beliefs, if you find that a candidate holds questionable values or posts hate speech, you may want to consider applying elsewhere. This could save your company from trouble in the future.

#9 Poor Credit History

A credit check is not essential for many background checks, but it should be done for any position that involves finances. Keep in mind that an applicant’s bad credit may have been caused by other life events, such as a divorce or death, and that this has no bearing on their suitability for the job. However, if you plan to hire for a job that employs handling money, you want to stay wary of applicants who battle with debts and loans.

#10 Refusing a Check

If a candidate responds calmly and honestly to questions about his or her criminal, financial, or employment history during the application or interview process, it could indicate that he or she is a competent and reliable employee who should be hired. On the other hand, if someone lies about their past or simply denies the information during a background check, they may be hiding something worse than what you originally expected. You want trustworthy and reliable people working for you and your company. Someone who is eager to hide relevant parts of their background, even if they are only lying about minor issues, is probably not a good choice for the job.

#11 Bad References

References are a great way to learn more about a potential employee’s personality and work ethic, and talking to previous employers can cleverly confirm these experiences. When you call former employers, you may also hear a negative response about your candidate. Remember that bad reviews can be due to misunderstandings, personal issues, or different situations beyond the candidate’s control. However, if the same negative impressions keep coming up, take this into consideration if you believe this potential employee will be a good fit for this position and work environment.

As with anything else, you need to have as much information as possible and consider any context or justification for these red flags. Millow will help you learn more about a candidate’s history or background, which will help you make a better and more informed decision when it comes to hiring just the right person for the job.