Background checks have become a common part of the hiring process. Whether you have something you’d rather not come out during a background check, you believe your record to be squeaky clean, or you’re not sure what’s even on your record, honesty is extremely important.
All employers look for honesty in potential hires. For some, the ability to be direct, forthright, and own up to past mistakes will always trump whatever incriminating information might come up about your past. First, let’s establish exactly what a background check is and what information it can uncover.
What is a Background Check?
A background check refers to a comprehensive investigation conducted on individuals to gather information about their past. It involves delving into various aspects of their personal, professional, educational, and criminal history. This process is commonly carried out by employers, landlords, financial institutions, and government agencies with the purpose of assessing an individual’s suitability, trustworthiness, and reliability.
During a background check, a range of sources are typically examined. These may include public records, such as court documents, arrest records, and civil judgments, to uncover any criminal activities or legal issues an individual may have been involved in. Employment history and educational qualifications are verified by contacting previous employers, educational institutions, and professional licensing bodies.
Furthermore, reference checks may be conducted to gather insights from individuals who have interacted with the individual in a professional or personal capacity. These references can provide valuable information about the individual’s character, work ethic, interpersonal skills, and so on.
In addition to criminal and employment history, credit checks may also be conducted by financial institutions to assess an individual’s financial responsibility and creditworthiness. Credit checks involve reviewing credit reports that provide details about an individual’s credit history, outstanding debts, and payment patterns.
Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s delve into why honesty is always the best policy, especially in the context of background checks.
Reduce Risk of Adverse Action:
If you know that you have a criminal record or a history of failed drug tests, you may be at risk of adverse action, meaning you may be at risk of losing that job. Adverse action refers to any action a potential employer takes against a candidate due to information discovered in the background check process.
Honesty is important because it allows you to get out in front of incriminating information. A 2017 study by HR.com found that 96% of employers conduct at least one type of background screening in the hiring process. In other words, you won’t be able to avoid getting background checked, so you might as well embrace it.
In a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 58% of employers claimed they’ve caught applicants in a lie on their job applications. There’s nothing worse than making a bad first impression, and lying is one of the worst things you can do. What reason would an employer have to trust you if you’ve lied before you’ve even spoken face-to-face?
Build trust with potential future employers by being upfront about how your background check might turn up. Even if you have nothing to confess to, having an open and upfront conversation shows that honesty is a core principle of yours. They’ll see the value in that.
Demonstrate a Willingness to Have Hard Conversations:
It’s not easy to be straight with a potential employer who doesn’t even know you about your potential weaknesses and shortcomings. The only thing more impressive than the ability, to be honest, is the temerity to start the conversation in the first place.
Every business is built on having hard conversations. Show your potential employers that you don’t shy away from them. You confront them head-on and honestly.
Speak to Your Strengths:
One huge positive about having the conversation about background check results is it gives you an opportunity to reframe shortcomings as strengths. If you have a criminal record, speak confidently about the way you’ve risen from adversity to success. If you’ve failed drug and alcohol tests in the past, speak to your ability to conquer something as tough as addiction and move on.
You can turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Honesty is the Best Policy!
In business, you have to be tough. And the toughest thing of all is honesty. Show your potential future employers that you don’t fear a little honesty. Maybe they’ll show you a contract for a new position in return.