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“Weeding” out “High” Risk candidates for employment

Background checks are great for “weeding” out “high” risk employees with records.

Wait – what if what they did then is legal now?

Hmmm…it may be high time we re-think how we use background checks.

Let’s start at the beginning…

If you want the best team, you have to find the right person, onboard them the right way, and treat them right.

This will lead to a higher level of engagement which results in better morale, better performance, lower accidents, and lower loss. See my other article on the breakdown.

Today we will focus on hiring the right person, and specifically how to treat their background.

If a person was convicted of drug use, and in particular possession of marijuana say 10 years ago, and as of today it is legal, does it mean they should not be denied employment with you because it isn’t an offence today?

It depends.

The bottom line is that when they were convicted, it was illegal, so it speaks to their integrity to a certain degree at the time of the initial offence. However, as I have written in previous articles, there is a very low percentage of the total population who fall into the category of “totally 100% honest”.

Most people will rationalize some level of dishonest behaviour.

e.g. – Me! I have exceeded the speed limit on the highway on a regular basis.

Hmmm, you too?

That’s what I am talking about. When we look for the right person to join our team we have to take everything into consideration.

I am a 30 year veteran of the loss prevention industry. Would I hire somebody with a criminal record? Yes, I would. If they are upfront about it, and I understand the circumstances, and what they have done about it, and their background did not put my company, employees or customers in harm’s way, I would consider it.

The key is, I would want to know. That is why background research is very important. It gives me a clear picture.

Employment history? I look for gaps or jumping around from job to jobs.

Academic background? If there is a degree involved, I do my due diligence and check in with the University.

Criminal records check? I would use a service like Triton to get clearance. If there is a record, I would talk to the candidate about the circumstances behind it.


Because the right person may have done something that is now legal and it takes an open mind and risk assessment to figure out if they are “right” for you.

But consider this – just because it is legal now, doesn’t mean what they did was right then….


About Stephen O'Keefe

As an independent consultant I leverage my experience and knowledge to help a number of companies achieve results. Clients range from non-retailers looking for guidance to serve their retail customer, to retailers looking for quick solutions to unique and costly problems, right to the Industry Association. Bottom line Matters!

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