background checks

15 Ways Employers Check You Out Before Saying, "You're Hired!"

iStockphoto.com |  busracavus

iStockphoto.com | busracavus

You want the job. You're qualified for the job. Why can't the company just give you the job?

Did you really think it was going to be easy? Employers want to know who they're hiring, and they're going to be intrusive in checking you out before extending an offer. And companies have many ways to vet job candidates before bringing you on board.

  1. The Resume - Your resume is a spelling test. It's a grammar test. It's a Microsoft Word publishing test. It's an honesty test. Reviewers make several judgments about you just based upon that simple 1 or 2 page resume.

  2. Interviews - These grueling meetings often include the hiring manager, peers, human resources, internal customers, or anyone with a stake in the hiring decision.

  3. Criminal Background Checks - Employers want to know you can be trusted with the keys to the company car, or if you're going to take it straight to the chop shop the first time you drive off.

  4. Employment Verification - Did you really work at the company, in the role you indicated, for the pay you detailed?

  5. Credit Checks - Another measure of trustworthiness. How do you handle your finances? If you've declared bankruptcy or have overdue bills, what does that say about your ability to manage company resources – in other words will your expense report be padded to cover your personal expenses?

  6. Physicals - It's rare, but not unheard of to be sent to the doctor for an evaluation if either your job involves a great deal of physical activity, or if you're considered critical to the organization.

  7. Skills Testing - The job requires you to be good at Microsoft PowerPoint - would you be willing to take a timed exam to see just how skilled you really are?

  8. Psychological / Personality Testing - These come in many flavors, but the purpose is the same - to see how well you’ll fit within the culture of the organization, and your predicted behaviors and predilections.

  9. Polygraph - The lie detector. Legal in several states, another test of your trustworthiness. Don't be surprised to take one of these when applying for positions in security or law enforcement.

  10. References - The company speaks with former supervisors or coworkers to find out more about your work habits.

  11. Informal References - This is when somebody at the company says, "Hey, I know somebody who used to work with that guy at my old employer! Let me get the skinny!" Then they do this without the applicant's knowledge or consent. It’s a gray area, but it happens more often than you’d think.

  12. Deep Background / Character Investigations - Applying to a position requiring access to top secret data? You might get an investigator poking around, asking your neighbors about your most personal details.

  13. Asking Around After The Interview - The hiring manager may ask the folks in the office who interacted with you how you behaved. Better have treated that receptionist with dignity and respect...

  14. Your Social Media - Who says they won't find those pictures on Facebook from your drunken escapade in Tijuana? And do you know what comes up in Google when somebody enters your name? How's that picture on your LinkedIn profile?

  15. Drug & Substance Testing - About that trip to Tijuana...


There's a lot of information about you out there, and companies won't be shy about gathering as much as they can before deciding whether to offer you a job. Be prepared.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

I Get Tons of Job Interviews, but Never an Offer! Why?

I don't think this interview is going well... (iStockphoto.com/ imtmphoto)

I don't think this interview is going well... (iStockphoto.com/imtmphoto)

As the old saying goes, "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride."

You have no problem getting job interviews. Tons of employers want to meet you. In fact, you're having trouble inventing new reasons to leave work early – your boss is getting suspicious of all these so-called doctor's appointments, funerals, and parent-teacher conferences.

You've been courted by more hiring managers than you can remember, and filled out scads of employment applications. But you can never seem to close the deal; you get those automated "Thank you for interviewing" notes informing you they've decided to keep looking.

What's going wrong?

It's time to take a look at how you approach the job search and interview process.

The good news first. Employers are noticing you, which means your resume and/or your LinkedIn profile are doing what they are supposed to do, generating interest with employers by highlighting your skills, accomplishments, and experience.

The bad news? Something is breaking down in the process after you get the call for the interview that's influencing employers not to hire you. Employers tend to be risk averse, and I once knew a manager who said very plainly about hiring decisions: "If it isn't yes, it's no." In other words, there's not much middle ground here - it doesn't take much to sink your chances.

Here is a checklist of things to consider.

• How's your interview style? Are you approachable? Friendly? Engaging? Positive? Don't underestimate the value employers place on personality. They want to hire employees they enjoy working with every day. A grumpy, curt, not-so-personable interviewee is a turn-off. Also, arrogance doesn't play well; yes, the company wanted to meet you, but they also want you to convince them that you're right for the role – and that you really want the role.

• Do you appear professional? Did you wear a suit to the interview? As in, a clean suit, without a ketchup stain on the lapel? Is your hair brushed? Are your fingernails clean? Did you remember to wear deodorant? How about brush your teeth? Also, even if you hear that the whole company wears jeans every day, wear a suit to the interview unless the Recruiter specifically tells you to wear something else; if you work in a business casual environment, and need to leave directly from work for an interview, keep a clean suit in your car and find somewhere to change into it before taking your first step into the interview.

• How did you answer the interview questions? Did you give smart, well thought out answers to the interview questions? For technical questions, were you able to explain effectively how you would solve the problem with sufficient detail to demonstrate that you know what you're talking about? If they asked you a behavioral interview question (i.e., "Tell me about a time when you had to..."), could you tell a story which explains how you overcame adversity? People are visual by nature, they want to have things explained to them clearly so that they can picture the situation.

• How were your manners? Did you show up on time? Did you remember to say "Please" and "Thank you?" How about answering questions when asked, and not interrupting? What about sending a "Thank You" note to all the interviewers afterward? The list of potential infractions goes on and on, but your mommy spent a lot of time teaching you how to behave for a reason.

• Did you oversell yourself in your resume? There's a temptation to really sell the heck out of yourself in your resume, and you should – so long as it accurately captures what can do and have done. But if you've exaggerated (or straight out lied) about your skills and experience in your resume, it will become apparent as soon as interviewers start asking in-depth questions about some of your stated accomplishments and you can't provide the essential details and knowledge to back up your braggadocio. If your answers don't feel right to an interviewer, you'll be knocked out of contention.

• How did you handle the compensation question? Companies want to know how much money it will take to get you into the job. It's a tricky discussion, loaded with traps and if the conversation goes poorly, it can end the interview on the spot. Learn more about the process here.

• Is there something funky on your background check? When you filled out an employer's application, you also completed an authorization for that employer to run a background check on you. So long as they have your signature on the background check authorization, the employer doesn't need any more approval or provide you with any notice to run it. And there could things showing up on there which give them pause; maybe there's a criminal offense you didn't disclose which pops up, or the dates of employment you provided on the application and the resume don't align with what came back in the check. Prior to extending an offer, here's a list of some of the ways employers might investigate you.

So what can you do to be sure that you'll be more successful in your interviews going forward? Here are a few strategies:

1. Practice interviewing. Interviewing is a learned skill, and you can get better at it. Engaging somebody to provide you with another perspective of your interview performance and presentation through mock interviewing – either a career coach or a very honest friend – can be highly beneficial. They'll be able to see things in the way you present yourself that you can't. Can you answer questions well? Are you being polite? Do you fidget?

2. Look the part. Think about upgrading your presentation with a modern, professional interviewing suit. Get your hair done. And make sure your shoes are polished. Practice good grooming. Don't give anybody a reason to knock you out due to your appearance.

3. Polish up your resume. It your resume accurately capturing you, your skills, and the value you've brought to an employer? While a resume is your platform to brag about your accomplishments, you also need to balance this with an honest approach, and a clear understanding of what you've done for an employer, in what capacity. Don't oversell yourself. Here are some tips for building a good resume

4. Learn what's in your background check. In the United States, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have a right to know what an employer finds in your background check that makes them decide not to hire you (disclaimer: I'm not an attorney, this is not legal advice – please consult an attorney for more specifics on FCRA and your rights). I would encourage you to take a proactive approach; if you think there's something adversely affecting you in your background check, it's better to know – hire a background check company to run a check on you so that you know what may be found in your files and be prepared to disclose it and answer questions about it.

5. Remember: There's always somebody out there who may be a better fit. At last count, there are more than 7.4 billion people on this little planet of ours. No matter how outstanding you are in your profession, no matter how likeable you are, no matter how many Nobel Prizes you've won, there is always – ALWAYS – the potential for another job applicant to come along who has a better resume than yours. Or they're slightly more likeable. Or they have better industry experience. Or they're best friends with the CEO's golf caddy. Or whatever. You won't always get the job, even if you're the best there is.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

15 Ways Companies Check You Out Before Saying, "You're Hired!"

You want the job. You're qualified for the job. Why can't the company just give you the job?

Did you really think it was going to be easy?

Are you kidding? Employers want to know who they're hiring, and they're going to be pretty darn intrusive in checking you out before extending you an offer. 

In case you were wondering, companies have many ways they vet job candidates before hiring them. Some you may have expected, others may surprise you. You will experience some combination of the below. Employers apply the old Reagan-ism: Trust but verify. And, by the way, this list is far from complete. There are other ways for companies to gather information about you...

  1. The Resume - Your resume serves so many purposes to somebody reading it. It's a spelling test. It's a grammar test. It's a Microsoft Word publishing test. It's an honesty test. Reviewers will make several judgments about you, just based upon that 1 to 2 page resume.
  2. Interviews - Grueling meetings with employees of the company. Usually includes the hiring manager, sometimes peers, human resources, internal customers, or anybody with a stake in the hiring decision.
  3. Criminal Background Checks - Employers want to see if you can be trusted with the keys to the company car, or if you're going to take it straight to the chop shop first time you drive off.
  4. Employment Verification - Did you really work at the company, in the role you indicated, for the pay you detailed? Let's find out!
  5. Credit Checks - Another measure of trustworthiness. How do you handle your finances? If you've declared bankruptcy or have overdue bills, what does that say about your ability to manage company resources? Will your expense report be a bit padded to cover your personal expenses?
  6. Physicals - It's rare (but not unheard of) to be sent to the doctor for an evaluation if either your job involves a great deal of physical activity, or if you're considered so critical to the organization that they need to make sure you're healthy.
  7. Skills Testing - The job requires you to be good at Microsoft PowerPoint - would you be willing to take a timed exam to see just how skilled you really are?
  8. Psychological / Personality Testing - These come in many flavors, but the purpose is the same - employers want to see how well you fit within the organization, and what are your predicted behaviors and predilections.
  9. Polygraph - The old lie detector. Legal in several states, another test of your trustworthiness. Don't be surprised to take one of these when applying for security or law enforcement roles.
  10. References - You provide the names and numbers of former supervisors or coworkers, and the company speaks with them to find out what a swell guy or gal you were.
  11. Informal References - Major gray area; this is when somebody at the company says, "Hey, I know somebody who used to work with that guy at my old employer! Let me get the skinny!" Then they do this without the applicant's knowledge or consent.
  12. Deep Background / Character Investigations - Applying to a position requiring access to top secret data? You might get an investigator or G-man poking around, asking your neighbors about your most personal details.
  13. Asking Around - The hiring manager may ask people who interacted with you, how you behaved. Better have treated that receptionist with dignity and respect...
  14. Your Social Media - Who says they won't find those pictures on Facebook from your drunken escapade in Tijuana? And do you know what comes up in Google when somebody enters your name? How's that picture on your LinkedIn profile?
  15. Drug & Substance Testing - About that trip to Tijuana...

Bottom line: There's a lot of information about you out there, and companies won't be shy in gathering as much as they can before deciding whether to offer you a job. Be prepared!

 

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.