How to deal with problems BEFORE they stop you getting employed

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 - Background Checks

How to deal with problems


they stop you getting employed

I’ll mention this right up front, but everyone has a secret that they don’t want other people to know about. That’s why they are so worried by their Personal Profile. But, however small that secret, they all think that that secret will stop them from getting employed.

Well, I’m here to tell you that that is not true.

What is true, unfortunately, is that some hiring managers are still racist, sexist and ageist in whom they ideally want to employ. Hence, one of the good things about applying via a recruiter is that you know that they should know the law, and hence can’t discriminate on such grounds.

But your minor personal misdemeanour is unlikely to stop you getting employed.

But lets says that its not so minor to not stop it appearing on a public record: then what do you do? Plus did you realise that in this age of the internet, what is “public” information now extends to what you openly place in Social Media.

The best strategy hence is to be prepared, and take some pre-emptive action if you are unsure of what and employer may find on a background check

The universal answer to all problem employment questions

The simple universal answer to all employment questions, is to look at the problem from the employers view point. The additional factor is to think of the ideal interview question response.

So what would an interviewer want to hear about your misdemeanour? Well firstly, don’t bring it up. If they do raise the subject, then follow these simple actions:

  1. Take responsibility: Yes, I look back now in retrospect and realise that at that time/age I was stupid. But I take full responsibility for my actions
  2. State what you learnt, and consequently why it shouldn’t happen again: I learnt that X, and since understanding this have moved on with my life. I am focused on my family and career these days, and if I hear of others getting into the same trouble offer my support

Legal issues versus open Social Media

So, are certain types of misdemeanour “better” than others? I have not personally yet written a Professional CV for a murderer, but I have written them for ex-convicts. As a recruiter, I have also rejected job applications from those who openly bragged about their drug taking on their open social media profiles (we could: we applied the rule universally to all job applicants, and it was a Government requirement of holding a lorry driving license that you were tested for drug use prior to gaining your provisional license).

The best type of misdemeanour is not to have one at all. But as human beings, there will always be a few things that we shouldn’t have done. So go back to the ideal job interview question response: take responsibility; state what you learnt.

In summary, this means that the older a misdemeanour is, the more track record of learning that you have, and hence the more that you have moved on. More recent evidence of poor choices – such as drug taking on your social media profile – will count more negatively hence than older criminal convictions.

In application of this advice, lets take this real job seeker question……

Background Checks: when in the hiring process?

Jill asks: At which point, within the hiring process does the average private, corporate company (and I’m talking corporate jobs which require education- not flipping burgers at McDonalds), perform a background check? I’m trying to get hired at a corporate job, but I have a small criminal background; nothing major, just something which might cause corporate employers to think twice about hiring me. Do background checks generally take place:
A. BEFORE the job offer (but after the interview, of course)
B. AFTER the job offer, but BEFORE you actually get to work at the company (i.e. they send you a job offer stating “ You are hired contingent upon successful completion of background check”, or something like that)
C. AFTER you are officially working at the company (however, they may fire you if something comes up on your Background Check)

I was told that it’s mostly “B” and “C”- Am I correct? Thanks, “Jill”

In Answer:
Thank you for your question Jill, but two points of clarity first:

  1. Background checks need to be applied universally across a company, irrespective of discriminatory issues. Hence they can not be included/precluded because of legal discrimination (age, race, creed, colour, sex, disability, etc), or grade. So McDonald’s CEO has the same set of basic background checks as the kid flippin’ burgers, although they may be more extensive above a certain executive grade level
  2. It doesn’t really matter when the background checks are done, but they will always be done, most often before final offer/contract signature

Hence in my experience as a recruiter, its most often in the window after the job interview but before the final contract signature.

There is one other consideration. Anyone can lie on a CV, but an employers job application form is a legal document. The first signs of a CV lie are hence in differences between what you put on your CV, and what you place in that employers job application form – the legal bit! If you have lied in your job application, or “left out items which could materially affect the decision to hire” – they will define these issues. Hence, even if you pass a background check, if such items come to light during your employment, you could be sacked instantly without compensation, and potentially sued for compensation.

Therefore, at the end of the job interview and even if you you don’t have concerns such as yours, always ask for a copy of the employers job application form. You can then read the full document, and if necessary get a solicitor or lawyer to read the associated terms and conditions, who can then advise you if you need to disclose your previous misdemeanour’s.

There is nothing stopping you getting employed, even if you have to disclose these issues. Often such disclosure is driven onto the employer by legal statute or regulatory definition, and most often this does not often stop the employer engaging employees as long as they fully disclose where required to do so.

Good Luck!


If you have any questions, call us on 0844 884 2825

If you need an interview winning solution, sign-up for our Professional CV service

If you want to check the suitability of your existing CV, then get a FREE CV review


Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses to “How to deal with problems BEFORE they stop you getting employed”

  1. Steve Mccrane Says:

    Finally a smart blogger-man…I love how you’re thinking…and writing!

  2. William.M.Watson Says:

    Love your blog, will be back again. Thank You – William.M.Watson

Recent Posts



Review on