Until recently, many had the impression that because a person was a seasoned executive under consideration for a lateral move
or a step up that it was a bit ridiculous to even consider making them do something as fundamental as completing a job application.
It was even more outlandish to feel a full background check on the applicant was necessary. After all, this is an executive
who's gained a prestigious standing in the company, been responsible for taking it to financial glory and hundreds of thousands
of dollars per year in revenues, has degrees and advanced degrees. This person has polish and solid business knowledge.
This applicant is just as human as the rest of the world. In addition to the scandals that are now seeing the light of day,
other companies have discovered some of their executive hires were less than desirable. Upon further investigation, criminal
records involving theft, abuse, multiple bankruptcies, and murder were among the elements of undisclosed, colorful backgrounds
of some executive applicants.
While some of these matters probably would not have been disclosed on a simple employment application, a thorough background
check would have revealed these things. These steps, combined with good reference checking, should provide a much more solid
basis for knowing your applicant is a good choice and among the top five (or so) contenders. There are several Net firms that
offer background checking services that are quite thorough and reliable. Their rates are extremely reasonable when compared
with the outcome sought.
Some are combining the background check done by companies such as PeopleSoft, US Search, CISOnline and KnowX with Internet
searches. Internet searches are especially useful when checking representations of those under consideration. Some recommend
using this type of search for checking on the candidate's school record, former employment and associations. Wisely, it is
pointed out that information found on the Net can be cloudy. Although you find a person at all of those places who has the
same name as your candidate, they may be two different people. It's wise to base your searches and conclusions on verifiable
Further, the background check should be combined with some type of professional psychological screening (administered to all
persons for a position of the type in question) and some follow-up interviews. The psychological screening should disclose
personality traits that may affect corporate dealings or propensities toward questionable behavior and cognition of its fringe
status. Psychological tests are also useful for determining how a person will react under certain circumstances. If you have
an applicant who, when the time for the psychological testing arrives, suddenly has one excuse after another for not being
able to attend the screening, it would be prudent to look a little more closely at who you actually have. If these excuses
arise after there's been constant enthusiasm about the position and a "hurry up and hire me" type of attitude, it may be a
good idea to pass on that person.
In addition to the psychological screening, it's prudent to do at least one follow-up interview. The follow-up interviews
serve several functions. There may be some things that come up in the background search that leave some questions about certain
issues. The interview can be used to ask about those matters and provide some time for the applicant to discuss or explain
the situations. Some other issues may have been found while doing an Internet search or collecting personal references. Again,
the follow-up interview is a time when these issues can be clarified. Now that the applicant is a serious contender, the follow-up
interview can also be used to more closely evaluate the applicant and their philosophies on key issues.
However, the critical steps to hiring -- even for someone under consideration for an executive-level position -- is doing
a background check and requiring a formal employment application. Just because it's a high profile position doesn't mean anything
if you've put the wrong person in the slot.