My horror story on background checks before hiring

My horror story on background checks before hiring

Background checks are critical – I soon found this out. A few years ago, I was running an Insurance Call Centre, where we had many outbound agents. In hindsight grateful for some of the regulations from the Insurance regulator, the FSCA, in that we had to preform a criminal check on every employee we hired.

We had an urgent campaign to fulfil and needed a male who was fully bilingual in English and Afrikaans. We interviewed a candidate, and he fitted the experience and education requirements, and our luck he could start the next day. As criminal checks back then could take 24 – 48 hours (now days you can get them in an hour) we asked him to come in the next day to start training. And once all checks were back and clean, he could start formally. 

Much to my surprise his criminal check came back with possession of marijuana, at the time illegal. But with FSCA regulations this was not a criminal charge that would cause us not to hire the individual. Calling the candidate to the office to let him know what had come back and let him know it was still ok to start. Before getting to the second part of the sentence out, he said that the charge was incorrect. My heart sank for him knowing that often identities are stolen in South Africa. Until he told me it should be an assault charge, specifically a domestic violence.

Being a female and having 95% females on my floor I was glad for the honesty, concerned for my team and more relieved when he left ‘to sort out the charges’ and never came back. We changed background check suppliers that day and have only ever used accredited suppliers, which we keep in check monthly after this incident.

Statistics tell us some interesting numbers on background checks:

70% of corruption cases were from someone in authority position.

42% of public driving permits were invalid

38% of criminal checks that had a result were for violent crimes

10% of candidate checks had a criminal record

4% of fraudsters have a previous criminal record

3% of matric certificates were invalid

*Statistics by iFacts and MIE

More stories

In 2019 we hired a Personal Assistant for a role in a great company, but we found out too late she had lied about having a driver’s license. We put in that background check on all candidates that are required to do any driving for our clients.

Often, we find minor convictions on criminal checks like speeding fines that have not been paid, to other activities that occurred when the candidate was 18 years old and now in an executive position. In 20 years I have only seen one violent criminal check coming back.

In closing

Always do background checks! It may be one of the most important parts in the hiring process, ensure you are crystal clear in who you hire. As someone said to me you spend one third of your life at work, ensure you know who you are going to be sitting next to.

Job Crystal offers background checks online – offers easy secure payment online.