The Importance of Screening and the Consequences of Lying

Many companies have not performed pre-employment screening in the past, instead choosing to rely on traditional face to face ‘judge of character’ analysis or gut feeling as that’s how the hiring process has always worked.

However, hiring just from gut instinct alone can lead to a 50% hiring failure rate as companies don’t always undertake full fact checking, instead preferring to go off first impression and character, which can easily be manipulated by individuals and is not reliable.

In an age where we have access to almost unlimited information and dedicated services, there really is no need to take the risk of a bad hire and all the issues that come with a misinformed decision.

It can be hard to justify the spend on screening processes to the board or senior decision-makers who haven’t used this type of service in the past. This can be especially true for a team of a significant size that would have a lot of screening requirements or for a small business that assumes that screening checks are not relevant given their size.

At first, screening can be deemed an unnecessary cost and performing a pre-employment check can seem like just another layer added to an already complicated hiring process. However, it is worth taking the time to invest in this service for the safety of your business, meeting legal requirements and to ensure you hire the right personnel.

Why Candidates Lie on Their CVs

When applying for a job, it is almost expected, and in some cases, even understandable for job seekers to exaggerate or even lie outright when listing their qualifications, credentials and work history. However, the cost of these seemingly harmless actions can potentially have far reaching and damaging consequences that come from a hiring decision that was made due to false or inflated information.

Due to these factors, it is highly recommended that businesses both big and small consider a background screening service company like CBS that is able to run the kind of checks that will be able to highlight any falsehoods in an applicant’s application.

Issues with staff, qualifications and work history are not a rare occurrence in the UK. The UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck service conducted a survey on data fraud by graduates and found that 33% of graduates or job seekers state inaccurate information on their CVs every year. Some of the most common acts of deceit include 40% of job applicants lying about their academic qualifications, with 11% making up their entire degree qualification.

Even the most basic change of facts on an applicant’s CV could legally be considered fraud and ultimately cost them the job once discovered. The truth often comes out when the applicant has issues completing tasks that should be second nature given the applicants “history and experience”.

If the job the applicant secured requires a legally mandated qualification, such as a medical certificate, legal action is often taken against the applicant for this serious infringement of trust and deceit.

What Do People Lie About?

Some of the most common faults we at CBS find when conducting background screening are as follows:

Employment dates: Often jobs will require an applicant to have a specific number of years’ direct experience in a similar role before allowing an applicant to apply. Therefore, it can be very tempting for an applicant to stretch their experience and employment history if they are a few months short, as they may feel their general ability is good enough to apply for the vacancy.

This could never the less result in an applicant without the necessary experience and knowledge to operate in a position of authority that could lead to mistakes, potentially damaging a company’s finances and reputation.

Fake or exaggerated qualifications: Often the most common and obvious lies to pick up on when undergoing a background check as a candidate will often bump up their grades a few levels to meet the qualification criteria for a job vacancy.

Sometimes, however, a candidate will go one step further and entirely make up qualifications such as diplomas or degrees relevant to the job. A high-profile example of this was seen with Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson in 2012. It was discovered that Thompson had padded his resume with an embellished computer science degree from Stonehill College; a College that did not offer a computer science degree at the time Thompson claimed to have studied.

Some applicants will even go through the trouble of obtaining a degree certificate from a “for purchase” online organisation that gives the impression and physical record of a degree, but without any of the associated knowledge.

Job title and wage: Along with exaggerating qualifications, this aspect of a CV can often be found to contain fraudulent and incorrect information. It is so easy for an applicant to change a few details to give a better impression. It is often found that these “facts” will need to be checked with previous employers to ensure the correct information is being passed on.

Criminal record: Many advertised positions, such as those working with vulnerable adults, the financial sector or working with children will require a criminal history background check. Often applicants will attempt to avoid mentioning a criminal record due to often unfounded fears that they will automatically be eliminated from consideration due to a minor driving violation, for example.

In 2014, the Fraud Prevention Service discovered that 63% of all fraud that was found and confirmed through their service was employment application fraud, covering false information including employment history, qualifications and concealment of criminal history.

In such a competitive job market, candidates will do anything to improve their chances to get that dream job. But what are the potential outcomes of taking this chance and what are the potential consequences for both organisations and the applicant?

Why Companies Should Screen Job Candidates

With the coming change to the job market to the UK due to the country’s exit from the EU, market growth in the job sector is becoming increasingly stagnated and selective as companies consider taking their business out of the UK to mainland Europe. As such the job market is more competitive and difficult to break into than ever.

These factors can cause applicants to get creative in the application and interview process, sometimes providing false information, that while may appear harmless, can have far reaching consequences for both the applicant and the company.

When it comes to the act of actual screening, 66% of companies are likely to engage in pre-employment screening in order to validate and check a candidate’s employment history, with 34% choosing to take a chance on unknown variables.

The “right to work” check for applicants is also very popular with companies, with 62% undertaking this. 58% also check for a criminal record, with 30% submitting applicants for credit/financial checks.

It is not just the security that background screening offers, it is also an investment for companies that can have a big impact in a reduction of turnover, which in turn saves the company money on training, lost business and re-advertising job vacancies.

When looking at value and measuring success in terms of employment screening, key factors to analyse are employee turnover, the costs associated with hiring and training budgets, as well as any fraudulent activity that may have taken place (or could if you don’t make smart hiring decisions).

A reliable pre-employment screening check can help minimise costs in these areas significantly and should be high on the list of priorities when you consider the damage that can be done to a company’s reputation by a bad hire.

Poor recruitment is the top reason for employee turnover for businesses in the UK. In 2011, a HireRight report stated that companies who implemented a background screening process before hiring a candidate had a 45% improved quality of hire.

The Consequences

As mentioned previously, there are numerous legal issues that can arise should a company not conduct proper background screening that can impact both the candidate and company.

Consequences for the Applicant

By lying on a CV, a candidate could potentially open themselves up to a 10-year prison sentence and the associated damage to their personal life, reputation and career prospects that come along with such a life changing event.

It is estimated that in the incredibly competitive job market within the UK, up to 200 applications per position are common in big cities with large populations such as London. Graduate jobs are also at a premium, with an estimated 85 graduates competing for every graduate level job nationwide. It is human nature to try and get an edge, no matter how small on the competition, by rewriting the facts and figures of your CV to more closely match the job description. But even these small lies could be considered fraud and could end an applicant’s career before it has even begun.

Applicants need to remember that this isn’t just a theoretical threat. According to Fraud Prevention Service, 324 people were prosecuted for lying on their CV in 2013, up from 205 in 2012. Fraud by false representation can have serious real-world consequences.

It is not just serious fraud like faking a medical degree that could result in a conviction either. In 2010, a woman was sentenced to 6 months in prison for lying about having 2 A-Levels in order to secure a £23,000 administration job with the NHS, showing that even positions without any real influence or power are still subject to the same rigorous laws and punishment.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, a conviction such as this could stay on someone’s criminal record forever, as it will never be considered “spent”, further harming long-term job prospects.

Another more recent case in 2016 saw a man plead guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation at Birmingham Crown Court for lying about crucial medical qualifications to work as a cardiac physiologist. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for each charge – to run concurrently – and must serve at least 18 months in jail before being considered for release on license.

Consequences for the Employer

The failure on the part of a company to check whether a potential employee has the right to work in the UK could result in a penalty of up to £20,000, which further highlights the importance of screening staff.

Businesses both large and small need to be aware of the law and requirements, particularly small companies as job applicants are more likely to falsify information as they assume the company is less likely to perform background checks.

How Can CBS Help You?

Ultimately, a robust employment screening process can help save you time and money whilst increasing the safety of your company and overall brand reputation.

At CBS, we can talk you through an employment checking process which will help benefit your company and help you to feel more secure when making this decision.

If you would like any more information on this or advice on measuring your screening services, please get in touch with our team – we’d love to hear from you.

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