Job Applicants Say the Darndest Things
Time is of the essence when performing credential verifications. However, there are occasions when the flow of information is not quite as smooth as we would like. Background check delays are frustrating to employers and applicants which can cause time to seem to stand still. Many times, these delays are unavoidable, but there are times when a little help from an applicant or respondent can go a long way.
Listed below are true incidents, provided by Justifacts’ Verification Specialists that shine some light into our world of the background screening process. Enjoy!!
Meet the familyApplicants sometimes like to ‘delegate’ the responsibility to others for providing information necessary to complete their background check. Because of privacy issues and in order to get the most accurate information, Justifacts’ Verification Specialists require that the actual candidate provide his/her own personal information. It helps a great deal if applicants are prepared with information about their past experience and have certain relevant information on hand.
Confirmation of a degree: Grandma says. . .A verification specialist needed additional information for a degree confirmation and contacted the applicant. When the Verification Specialist asked for the name of the school where the applicant graduated, the conversation was as follows:
Applicant: “Grandma, what was the name of that place you put me in so I could graduate?”
Grandma couldn’t remember.
Verification Specialist: “What about the graduation year?”
Applicant: “Grandma, what year did I get out of that program?”
Grandma couldn’t remember.
Applicant: “Well, I’m going to have to call you back. Grandma doesn’t know anything.”
Mom knows best. . .A Verification Specialist needed to get an applicant’s social security number and graduation date to assist in a verification. The applicant responded, “I don’t have that information, can I have my mom call you back?
How about my uncle, aunt, cousin, Mom. . .A Verification Specialist was having some difficulty obtaining a Professional Reference to complete an applicant’s background check. He informed the applicant that we are not permitted to take relatives as a reference. The applicant asked if his ex-wife could give a reference. After turning down that request, the applicant asked the Verification Specialist to add his brother. After a speechless moment or two the Verification Specialist explained the non-relative policy again. The applicant responded by suggesting his mother as a reference.
Honesty is the best policyWhen it comes to applying for a job, it’s natural to want to paint yourself in the best light and possibly even “fluff up” your credentials a bit. However, sometimes applicant’s can take that a little too far, and a background check is going to bring that information to light. The best way to impress your future employer is to provide accurate information and to be as upfront as possible if a mistake has been made on your application.
Did I Say That?An applicant indicated he graduated from a four year university but nothing was found so the Verification Specialist called for additional information. When asked the year of graduation, the response was, “Oh, did I say that I graduated? I did not graduate. I did not understand the online application.” When asked specifics about high school, the response was, “Oh, did I say that I graduated from high school because I didn’t.” When asked about completing a GED or other vocational program, the response was the same. To top it off the applicant inquired, “So, do you think this will affect me getting the job?”
Location, Location, Location…Verification Specialists may work out of a central office in the United States (or at least Justifacts Verification Specialist are in the United States!), but we perform background verifications all over the world. Sometimes applicants and respondents make the assumption that we are located in their hometown. It really helps when an applicant provides address, city, state, working telephone number, and email address of a previous employer.
Likewise, because we are partnering with potential employers, it is unlikely Verification Specialist have personally met the applicant on whom we are performing the background check. As an applicant, one thing you can really do to help speed up the background screening process is to contact your references, remind them of who you are and let them know that a Verification Specialist will be contacting them soon.
It’s right past the place that used to be a Pizza Shop…An applicant worked at a popular fast food restaurant but provided only a city and state for contact information. When contacted, the applicant proceeded to give the Verification Specialist directions to the restaurant. The Verification Specialist explained that she was calling from Pittsburgh and was unfamiliar with where these landmarks were located. There was a pause, and then this question: “Well, if you are calling from Pittsburgh, how did you know I was working at that restaurant?”
Can you describe him to me?A Verification Specialist called a reference who could not remember the applicant. After mulling it over for several minutes, she was asked, “Can you tell me what this person looks like – that may help jog my memory.”
Pictures are not worth a thousand wordsWe live in an age of amazing technology. There are apps to make us look younger and programs that will create any document that you can imagine and make it look as realistic as the official document. We know that it can be frustrating when a verification is difficult to obtain. It is easy to understand the temptation to just want to send in a copy of your diploma, an old pay stub or a photograph to help verify your credentials.
Unfortunately because of the risk of falsification, at Justifacts we cannot accept these documents in lieu of actual verifications. Justifacts is only able include information in our reports that has been verified by a recognized third party.
A Verification Specialist was having trouble verifying an applicant’s employment because the company had gone out of business. She emailed the applicant to ask if it was possible to provide a former supervisor’s telephone number or if there was a corporate location we could reach out to. He was not able to provide that information; however, in his response he did attach a picture of himself in his work uniform.
On another occasion, a Verification Specialist was attempting to confirm an applicant’s degree. The university had no record of the applicant obtaining a degree. The Verification Specialist contacted the applicant to see if she may have graduated under a maiden name, or if there was any other information that would help with locating the records. The applicant was not able to provide any additional information, but she did attach a picture of herself in a cap and gown.
Help us to help youAt Justifacts we are relentless in our quest to confirm your information. We view difficult verifications as a personal challenge and we will do everything in our power to provide quality information to prospective employers. Oftentimes our clients will give us permission to reach out to applicants to assist in our efforts. On occasion, we catch applicants off guard and certain ‘defensive reflexes” are the result.
Is this legal?A Verification Specialist needed to reach out to an applicant to get the names of some professional references. The applicant became agitated and asked, “Are background checks even legal anymore?”
Yes, background checks are legal. Rest assured, there are state and federal laws that help to give guidance to employers and background screening agencies. These laws also serve to protect applicants. In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), applicants must be provided with a disclosure and authorization as well as a Summary of Rights prior to the background screening process. Upon completion of a background check, applicants are able to dispute any misinformation through a pre-adverse process and must be issued an adverse action letter if negative information found in a background check prevented them from being hired for a position. Applicants may feel that their privacy is being invaded, but must be aware that background checks are a common practice for a variety of industries.
Take me off your list. .A Verification Specialist reached out to an applicant to obtain some information needed for his background check and, without missing a beat, he said, “Please take me off your call list” and hung up on her.
Please know, Justifacts is doing our best to paint the most accurate picture of applicants for our clients and there are times when we need clarification to verify information that was provided on an application. Responding to our phone calls only helps shorten the hiring process.
The onboarding experience can be stressful for both clients and their candidates. Justifacts strives to provide the most positive candidate experience for our clients. So the next time you receive a call from Justifacts, be sure answer the phone and be truthful. It’s only to your benefit!