5 Red Flags During A Background Check

5 Red Flags During A Background Check

As we seek to find the right people for church staffs around the country, Vanderbloemen Search Group has conducted hundreds of background checks for candidates. In our experience, these are the five most common red flags of candidates that come up during the background check process.

1. Refusal to Undergo a Background Check

Perhaps the biggest red flag in the hiring process is candidates declining to submit their information for background checks. A candidate may come up with excuses like, “My background is clean” or “I don’t want to waste precious resources for your church to run an expensive background check.” Perhaps they will want to provide you with a background that was run previously. Assure the candidate that an up-to-date background check is essential to being offered a position at your organization. If the candidate continues to refuse to participate, it’s likely time to stop considering him or her for the position.

2. Dragging Feet

In many instances, if candidates do not respond to an initial background request within a 3-4 day period, they are probably hesitant about moving forward in the process. For many candidates, the background check brings about a “this is real” moment that they haven’t prepared for.

If you have a candidate delaying in providing references or completing background check authorization forms, take time to answer questions and relieve any fears that they may have. Sometimes candidates are hesitant to participate in the background check because they have bad credit that they didn’t disclose previously. Encourage this person that the amount of debt is not nearly as important as the steps they are currently taking to tackle it. 

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3. Background Check Not Aligning with A Candidate's Story

One of the main arguments for a candidate’s background check is to verify his or her story. An education verification will confirm a candidate’s graduation from college or seminary and the resume timeline. A criminal record check will verify that a candidate has never been convicted of a crime. A reference check will confirm a candidate’s employment at listed organizations and the fact that they are who they say they are.

Red flags occur when the information in a background check does not align with the information from a resume. Did the candidate list that they had graduated from university but it was not found to be the case in the education verification? Have a conversation with the candidate to fill in gaps and answer any discrepancies you may find.

4. Failure to Disclose Red Flags

Before each background check Vanderbloemen Search Group runs, we ask the candidate to sign a release form that, in part, states, “I acknowledge that I have not failed to disclose any information that might be considered pertinent to the process for the hire.” Perhaps the most frustrating part of the background check process is when information is uncovered in the candidate’s criminal, credit, reference or social media screen that is, in fact, pertinent. In many cases the candidate will claim that they didn’t think it was pertinent. This is not only an obvious red flag but it could be a disqualifying flag depending on how the candidate reacts.

We strongly encourage clients not to automatically disqualify candidates from consideration when information is uncovered, but rather have conversations with them to hear their stories. If a candidate refuses to admit the gravity of the information at hand, it no longer becomes the newly discovered information that is the disqualifier, but the candidate’s reaction to the information.

5. References are Not Relevant or Up-to-date

A relevant reference is someone who can speak about the candidate’s abilities and skills relating to the position. If a candidate’s references cannot answer simple questions about the quality of the candidate’s work or areas in which they would benefit from coaching, they are an irrelevant reference. At Vanderbloemen, we ask that at least one reference from each candidate be from their current place of employment. This is so that at least one reference can substantiate that the candidate is not running from personal or professional scandal. If a candidate cannot provide an up-to-date reference or if none of the references are considered “relevant”, it’s time to have an open conversation about why that is.

While none of these flags are automatic grounds for dismissal from consideration, it is important to have honest conversations with the candidate if any of these flags appear during the background check process.

How has your church dealt with red flags in the background check process in the past?

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