Quick! What is the first thing you think of when you hear that there was some type of warning or “red flag” in a background check/background investigation?
If you are like most people, you probably think of criminal records … and rightfully so.
Criminal records are the most important piece of a background investigation. (Doing a criminal record check properly is also critical, but I digress.)
Would you be surprised to know that criminal records are not the only piece of a background investigation?
While criminal records are a clear warning, the truth of the matter is most people don’t have criminal records. The fact that there are no criminal records against an individual doesn’t mean that there are no warning signs.
- Would you hire a controller who wasn’t a CPA like they said they were? Or had just filed for bankruptcy?
- Would you hire a nanny who had filed a civil lawsuit against the last three families she worked with?
- Would you invest with a hedge fund manager who didn’t go to Harvard University like he said he did?
- Would you want to partner with someone whose secretary just had filed a civil lawsuit alleging that he harassed her?
In most instances, the answer is pretty clear.
The point here is that criminal records, while they are the proverbial “smoking gun” of a background check, are not necessarily the only warning sign. There are literally hundreds of potential warning signs that can be identified during an in-depth, comprehensive background investigation.
In the attached infographic, we have included some of the most common warning signs and red flags in a background investigation, ranging from unreported work histories and falsified military careers to discrimination lawsuits, multiple divorce filings and hidden corporate interests.
These red flags are broken down into five areas:
- Criminal Involvement – This is the classic red flag of any individual who has been involved in criminal activity.
- Professional Concerns – There are many stories of business leaders, politicians or coaches falsifying their credentials … but they aren’t the only ones.
- Personal Life – How someone leads their personal life can provide clues about their performance elsewhere.
- Financial Issues – Of course, there is nothing wrong with owning a McMansion or a Bentley, but when your income doesn’t match your spending, there is reason for concern.
- Legal Entanglements – A pattern of behavior that includes numerous legal entanglements or regulatory complaints can be a major concern.
There are numerous red flags that can come out in a background investigation other than the discovery of the obvious proverbial axe murderer.
The bigger question is, will you spot it?
This post is part of a series of posts titled Background Investigations 101 – What You Need To Know.