Background checks at the highest level – what do they look for?

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When hiring for high level positions, companies need to be sure that they are making the right decision. A bad hire can cost a company up to three or four times the hires annual salary, and when you are recruiting for a director or senior manager, this can pose a significant financial risk.

It is best practise to routinely screen for right to work, education and employment history as well as carry out role and industry relevant criminal records checks, but what else should you look for when screening the highest-level candidates?

Conflicts of Interest

Board memberships, corporate ties or affiliations with other companies or organisations could pose a risk to your business and present a harmful conflict of interest. If an employee has loyalties or interests which could be harmful to your business, staff or clients it is best to rule out that candidate earlier rather than later in the process.

Extensive Address History

With senior executives often being highly mobile both in work and education, it is important to check information in all areas where the candidate might have lived or worked. This may involve a global background check if the candidate has spent time abroad.

Financial Health

Directors and senior managers often make crucial financial decisions which will impact the future of the company, some employers will request access to details of candidates’ personal finances or how they financially conducted themselves in previous employment.

Identify Disqualifications

Ensuring that your candidate has not been disqualified from holding certain senior positions is crucial, and different industries have different rules. There have been recent changes regarding the disqualification of candidates who are able to act as trustees or senior managers in charities, those who have previously been declared bankrupt or who have unspent convictions for deceptive or dishonest crimes, as well as money laundering or terrorism could disqualify a candidate from working in a certain role.

Previous Public Relations

Yesterdays news is no longer todays chip paper. High level executives who have been a spokesperson for their previous employers might have left a PR footprint which you don’t want to be associated with, either because the company or the comments have questionable integrity. This could reflect badly on your company, especially if you are ill-prepared.

It is prudent to carry out thorough background checks at every level of employment, but with the stakes so high for senior positions, comprehensive and robust screening becomes all the more important.