The IQ Blog offers human resources and risk management professionals a 360-degree analysis of the evolving trends, ever-changing legislation and innovations in the world of employment background checks, with an occasional opinion or two and attitude mixed in.
CareerBuilder came out with their 2nd annual list of the craziest things hiring managers have heard from applicants during interviews. More politically correct than my title, the list is referred to as Interviewees Say the Darndest Things. Here are some of my favorites. You just can’t make this stuff up.
1. “I remember interviewing a secretary some years ago and asking her, ‘What is important to you in a job?’ Her answer was: ‘I want to work close to Bloomingdales.’”
2. “Without a doubt, the craziest thing I ever heard came from a candidate for an entry-level management position. He looked perfect on paper, so we scheduled a phone interview for 3 p.m. He answered the phone and when I introduced myself he said, ‘Hold on, I’m at a bar. Let me finish this shot and go outside.’ Amidst the noise of an active game of pool and a rowdy bar crowd, he slipped outside and told me, ‘You know what? I’m a little drunker than I thought. Can we reschedule?’ Needless to say, we did not.”
3. “We performed mock interviews where our clients were put in an interview session using their real backgrounds, interests, etc. When asked why the client left her last job, which was in a family buffet-style restaurant, her response was, ‘I was hungry and didn’t know it would be a problem so I had pizza delivered to the restaurant while was on the clock.’”
4. “I interviewed a senior engineer for one of our open positions. He demanded coffee and proceeded to spill coffee in his lap. Then he pointed to his groin area, laughed and said, ‘It looks like I wet myself!’ Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.”
5. “We always include a casual lunch or dinner portion during an interview to continue our discussions in a more informal manner. This candidate let their guard down, falling out of their ‘interview mode,’ during the friendly and casual meal-time discussions. They went so far as to share that they installed an illegal second network in their office with co-workers and would spend their afternoons gaming on the clock. They then went on to further share how regularly in the mornings and afternoons they would sleep at their desk during working hours. Bragging that they had never once been caught in either of these acts. Needless to say, this candidate was not hired.
6. “I was interviewing an older woman for a position in my company. I thought she had a great personality and was considering hiring her. Then at the end of the interview she asked if I would be able to give her a ride to work and then back home again everyday! Umm, no.”
7. “One job candidate arrived late for the interview, in a not-so-gracious mood. ‘The commute is terrible,’ she said. ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to do this every day.’”
I know this is going to sound contrary to usual mantra, but with candidates like these, who needs background checks?
I know we are past the holiday season, but this song has never been more appropriate than now for the winter from hell. And it’s only February 1st, yikes!
Personally, I’ve already been delayed 4 hours each way on a trip to Kansas City and just had to cancel a trip to Houston due to a blizzard that will be barreling down on the Chicagoland area by tonight.
So, why are we talking about the weather? Besides the fact that I love to play Al Roker (and complain about my travel woes), the winter storms we’ve seen since December are wreaking havoc on background checks. Why? Because every day the weather is causing courts throughout the country to close. Just last week alone, we had court closures in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Check out the Court Delays section of EmployeeScreen University. But it’s not just the courts. Businesses also close when the weather turns treacherous.
So if you’re playing at home now, we’ve got courts and businesses closed. Score 2 for the weather and none for employers that are waiting for criminal records and employment verifications and references to come back.
They’re dubbing this latest storm as the “worst winter storm in history”. We’re expecting 18″-24″ of snow here in Chicago over the next 24 hours. Wonder how long our courts will be shut down for.
Last Friday, I started to write a post about Ted Williams, a man who has become an overnight sensation and a cult hero of sorts. I made it about half way through the post and decided to stop. Why? Because while I started to talk about what a great story it was, I was already struggling with the fact that the story really wasn’t over yet. See this excerpt below from the post that wasn’t.
I know we’ve already posted a story on this, but I am blown away about the story of Ted Williams (aka “The Man with the Golden Voice). It is indeed a heart touching story and comes at a time when so many people have lost so much. It is my sincere hope that Williams is able to handle his new found fame and not return to a life of drugs and crime. I also hope that he is able to surround himself with people that can help him do so and not take advantage of his situation.
Of course, I had no idea of the events that would unfold just a few days later, but unfortunatley it confirmed my fears for what might happen to someone in his position. After hearing of his troubles, I tried to revise the post, but decided it sounded too “I told you so”.
Everyone deserves a second chance, unless your company is the one who has to give it, right?
I love hearing stories about recovery and redemption. What makes these stories so powerful (and relatively rare) are the odds against legitimate second chances are so incredibly high.
When I heard about Ted Williams and his story, it was a feel good story for sure. A man who, against all odds, found fame for simply being good at something. He was living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio and nobody knew that he had this incredible voice.
Of course, what happened next wasn’t a surprise to anyone who has taken an employment risk before
Guess what? Employees make mistakes
USA Today reported that Ted Williams, the man who rose to fame just a week ago, is heading to rehab:
During a taping of the Dr. Phil Show today in Los Angeles, Ted Williams — with his family’s support — said he has decided to enter a private rehabilitation treatment facility for his alcohol and drug dependency, a show spokeswoman says. Williams came to the conclusion following a lengthy one-on-one conversation with Dr. Phil, which will air tomorrow.
According to the show, the decision was made due in part to Williams’ strange behavior over the past several days, which culminated in a physical altercation with one of his daughters at a Hollywood hotel. He was briefly detained by police and later released.
If you know anything about substance abuse, you know that the road to recovery is full of all sorts of issues (including, unfortunately, relapses). While the story about Williams initially said he was sober for several years, it is obvious that this wasn’t the case.
Will those who have offered him a job continue to honor that commitment or will they withdraw their offer and take the safer bet of separating themselves from the situation?
Separating talent from conduct outside of work
When talent is undeniable, it is hard to not reach out and take that risk.
Certainly Williams has it, and Michael Vick is another prime example of talent trumping the risks that poor personal choices can have on an organization. Vick recently led the Philadelphia Eagles to a playoff berth but before he was slinging passes for the team, he was doing hard time for his involvement in a dog fighting and gambling scandal.
For an organization like the Eagles, or a public figure like Vick, there may be some different rules. Fans reactions have been divided. I know several (now former) Eagles fans who aren’t supporting the team at all. Still others are putting their personal feelings aside and giving him a second chance.
While most would acknowledge that people like Vick and Williams probably deserve second (or third) chances, are they willing to put their money where their mouth is?
Employment decisions run counter to talk
Late last month, President Obama called the Philadelphia Eagles owner to congratulate him for giving Vick a second chance. I was sort of bemused about that since there is little doubt in my mind that Vick wouldn’t have been given a second chance by the federal government itself. Nick Fishman of EmployeeScreenIQ agrees saying:
Does anyone actually believe Michael Vick could have gotten a job at the White House or any other government agency for that matter? We would have never passed a background check. Now, I’m not suggesting that the government should abandon its employment screening policies. What I am suggesting is that it is hypocritical to commend an employer for hiring those with a criminal past, when you, yourself would not. I am also suggesting that the government’s drive to curb the use of background checks or the information they are allowed to use in a hiring decision runs counter to their own hiring policies.
The question in my mind continues to be this: which companies are willing to walk the talk when it comes to giving employees second chances? It is incredibly easy to say someone deserves another chance, but when it comes to your company’s money and risk, are you recommending an action you would not take yourself?
It’s not an easy decision to make, but what choice are you willing to make when it comes to overlooking personal conduct for talent? Are you passing over candidates like Ted Williams or Michael Vick, and are you cognizant of the conflicting risks of both taking or leaving surefire talent to someone else because of a bad past?
The Cleveland Cavaliers have played terribly this season with the loss of premadonna LeBron James. Today they announced a great play, the hiring of Ted Williams. Now, many of you die hard Cleveland fans might be saying to yourself; “Wait, they unfroze Ted Williams, one of the best baseball players of all time to play BASKETBALL????” Right on, he will likely play better than any of the scrubs currently running up and down the court!!
Employment screening is not always about denying people jobs who have an unsatisfactory history. Many times its about finding the right job, for the right person. This is a touching story of a man, down on his luck that was just given a HUGE second chance!
While the Cavaliers are struggling on the court this season without their former superstar, the organization is still making waves in the community. In perhaps one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever seen.
Ted Williams, who was previously homeless held up a sign every day telling the world about his “Golden Radio Voice”. Someone pulled off to the side of the road to speak with him and video taped the man, and he wasn’t lying. This guy has an incredible voice!
Apparently the Cleveland Cavaliers took notice after the Columbus Dispatch featured the man in the paper they and offered him a job and a house. Williams was on a local radio station, WNCI exclaiming “The Cleveland Cavaliers just offered me a full-time job and a house! A house! A house!”
He also added “I’ve been out there about a year; I just didn’t know anything like this would ever happen. There’s so many words. I’ve already been compared to Susan Boyle. I’m just so happy.”
It’s unclear what position the Cavaliers have offered Williams, but it is an incredible story of redemption after Williams threw his career away years ago admittedly due to drugs and alcohol.
“Just to get back to some normalcy and responsibility.. If I can get a job, whether it’s a $25,000 or even $18,000, I’d be happy. At least I know God has me where he wants me.”
Here is the video… it’s pretty incredible how this all went down.
A U.S. senator is calling for a federal probe into the system of background checks for employees at nuclear plants after learning that a suspected al Qaeda member from New Jersey worked at five such sites.
“We simply cannot tolerate at any time having someone with terrorist ties working at a nuclear plant, period,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a written statement Saturday.
“It seems like common sense, but clearly we need to tighten up the system.”
The FBI said earlier this week that it is investigating Sharif Mobley, a 26-year-old from Buena, New Jersey, as a suspected member of al Qaeda. Mobley also is accused of shooting and killing a security agent and severely injuring another while trying to flee the Republican Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, last weekend, a law enforcement source said last week.
Mobley’s father said Saturday, “My son is no terrorist.” He would not comment further.
Mobley worked at nuclear plants operated by PSEG Nuclear for different contractors from 2002 to 2008, doing routine labor such as carrying supplies and assisting with maintenance activities, company spokesman Joe Delmar said Thursday.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was working with the FBI to determine whether Mobley had access to any sensitive areas of the nuclear plants where he once worked, spokeswoman Holly Harrington said.
“It’s important to note that for him to even be in the plants, he’d have to undergo a background and criminal history check,” she said. She said Mobley worked at five plants between 2002 and 2008 in “labor [and] maintenance kind of positions.”
Schumer said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector general should conduct an “immediate and thorough review” of its procedures for background checks on new and transfer employees. The senator said the monitoring of current employees needs improvement.
He said the current background checks include an examination of criminal and employment histories, a psychological assessment and behavioral observation.
However, “the NRC delegates the authority to complete background checks, which results in a certain degree of disparity in how checks are carried out, and what information is ultimately covered,” Schumer’s statement said.
He said the checks are not required to cover such information as past travel and ties with other countries.
Yemeni counterterrorism forces rushed to the scene and captured Mobley, who had barricaded himself in a hospital room, said Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, on Thursday.
Mobley remains detained in Yemen after the incident at the hospital.
Yemeni authorities detained him and 10 other al Qaeda suspects this month in a “successful security sweep” in Sanaa, the capital, Albasha said. Mobley had been transported to the hospital over the weekend for medical treatment, Albasha said. He would not elaborate.
If you want to walk among the stars at this year’s Oscar’s, you better be able to pass a background check. GreenLightJobs’ Ross Gile passed this story on over the weekend. You gotta love a story that included the word “dufuses”.
The Red Carpet beckons and surely you would look better sitting there than the dufuses pictured above. For one week, from noon PST September 19 until noon PST September 26 (yes, that means now), fans can enter a random online drawing to win one of 300 bleacher seats available to watch the red carpet arrivals at the 78th Academy Awards on March 5, 2006, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Those interested in securing seats — and if you were going to be in town that day, who wouldn’t? — must log on to oscars.org/bleachers this week and click on “Continue to Registration Page” for the online application form.
To be eligible, an individual must complete the form in its entirety. Applications may only be submitted online. Forms may “not be returned via U.S. mail, fax or private delivery service such as UPS or FedEx,” because none of those delivery methods would be, um, online. Got it?
Online bleacher application forms can register one person or groups up to four, but only one form will be accepted per person or group.
Applicants successful in the random drawing will be notified by Monday, October 3. Fans selected in this first phase of the process will be required to submit additional information for security purposes prior to final approval – and their first-born child. Eligible attendees will be notified of their approval by December 1. Once approved, participants will receive a confirmation letter with additional information pertinent to the event. No one will be admitted without the official Academy confirmation letter.
This year marks the fourth year that applications have been required for bleacher seats. Last year over 21,000 fans applied online for the limited seats available – hey, a 1.4% chance is WAY better than the lottery.
If your company is looking to hire someone from the United Kingdom between roughly 117 and 218 years of age, have no fear – there is a criminal records check available for you. The trial records of 18th and 19th century U.K. citizens convicted of poaching from a rabbit warren, bad language, scrumping for apples and other crimes are now available online courtesy of Ancestry.co.uk. Due to the age of the records, it is highly recommended that any employer looking to take advantage of this new service contact their legal department regarding the use of these records in denial of employment.
All criminal trials reported to the Home Office from 1791 to 1892 have been put online by Ancestry.co.uk.
The list of names includes Jack the Ripper suspect Dr Neill Cream. At a time when 222 crimes were punishable by death, these records, available through the genealogical website, provide a brutal account of the ‘Bloody Code’ period in England and Wales.
Ancestry.co.uk managing director Olivier Van Calster said: “These registers testify to the fact that crime and punishment was and always will be a controversial subject; they also highlight the often colourful nature of crime, and in particular how creative criminals could be, even in less sophisticated times.
“This collection will be of great use to social historians as they contain a variety of in-depth information about crime and criminals in England and Wales during a period of great poverty, change and, ultimately, reform.”
The England & Wales Criminal Registers, 1791-1892, detail over 1.4 million criminal trials that took place during this period, with the records painting a detailed picture of Britain’s early legal system.
Each register gives information on the crime, the full name and date of birth of the accused, the location of the trial and the judgment passed. During this period, almost two in three tried for their crimes received sentences of imprisonment and offences could be as minor as bad language or scrumping for apples.
Almost one in 10 people were either transported overseas or sentenced to death. Crimes carrying the death penalty included stealing anything worth more than five shillings (equivalent of £30 today), theft of livestock, poaching from a rabbit warren, or cutting down trees. Among the 10,300 executions during this period was that of a boy aged just 14; hanged for murder.
This provides the public with indexing software and training support to enable them to contribute in making even more historical records available and searchable online. To date, thousands of Britons have contributed their time to this project.
A local newspaper in Austin, Texas recently issued a follow-up piece to a feature story they published about an 81-year-old female pilot who has logged nearly 29,000 flight hours during her lifetime. The intention of the story was to make its readers feel good and highlight the incredible achievement of this woman who is still going strong despite her age. Shortly after the story was published, the newspaper got wind of an incident that occurred nearly 40 years ago that they felt was important to inform their readers about – namely, a murder conviction for the death of her 6-year-old stepson.
The story describes what happened and why they have chosen to inform their readers about the woman’s past. While this isn’t a case of conducting a background check for employment purposes, one can clearly see the similarities.
Last week we ran a front page feature about Smithville pilot Lori Adams, who continues a lifetime of flying at 81. Saturday, we ran another story about Adams, this time pointing out a bit of her history that wasn’t in the original story, that Adams had been convicted in 1973 for the murder of her 6-year-old stepson. Her conviction did not show up in the background check we routinely do on profile subjects before we put them in the paper.
Some of our readers thanked us for the additional information about Adams. Others complained that the murder wasn’t relevant to Adams’ life as a pilot. They wondered why we felt compelled to come back and do the second story. Still others were bothered that we do background checks at all.
The original profile, a nicely-written account by Andrea Lorenz, could easily be seen as a celebration of the pilot’s life and spirit. It was a feel-good piece about how one local woman persists in following her passion.
When we discovered after the article ran that our routine background check had failed to reveal a murder conviction, that information seemed significant enough to Adams’ life story to warrant a follow-up article. We didn’t do it out of any desire to embarrass Adams or to pass any sort of judgment on her. Our sole motivation was that we felt readers deserved a more full picture of Adams’ life in light of the previous profile we had run.
As for those background checks we do, they are checks of public records — the sort of information available to anyone about anyone else. A person can use a service or dig through individual courthouse records. We generally check through a service for criminal background, lawsuits, liens and bankruptcies. We do the checks to make sure we aren’t surprised about someone’s background after a story comes out, as we were in this case. Had we known about the murder conviction in this case, we might have included it in the original profile or we might have decided not to do a story about the pilot at all.
In some cases we decide the information we have found isn’t relevant to the story because it’s old, it’s minor or it has no relation to the current situation. In this case, the nature of the crime for which Adams was convicted was such that we felt we should present the information to readers and let them decide whether it changed their perceptions of the original story.
First came diploma mills - organizations ready and willing to issue and verify a fraudulent college, graduate or doctorate degrees for an applicant. Then came employment mills who, for a small fee, will make applicants “employees” of one of their partner companies in order to fabricate work experience. Now, we have document mills - underground organizations selling false citizenship documents to illegal aliens to aid them in obtaining employment in this country.
For immigrants living in this country illegally, often the only way to get a job or a driver’s license is with phony documents.
It’s an underground business thriving in several communities around Boston. Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says federal agents are working undercover to shut down these shady operations.
The video is blurred and grainy but the man in the driver’s seat is an undercover federal agent posing as an illegal immigrant. The video shot by federal investigators in Lynn shows the agent buying phony documents needed to work or to get a driver’s license.
Bruce Foucart is the top federal agent in Boston charged with tracking down criminals who are making big bucks selling bogus documents to people who are in this country illegally.
Foucart says “it is very big problem.”
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency’s Boston office is a busy place these days. Foucart says it matter of national security. “The people who are making and selling these documents do not run background checks. So they do not know if they have terrorist or a murderer from another country.”
Kudos to the city of Carlsbad, California. They were getting ready to enter into a contract that would consolidate several of their IT platforms into Microsoft’s Cloud technology. Before doing so, they were wise enough to ask what type of background checks Microsoft conducted on their employees and what their hiring standards were when they found adverse information. See excerpt from the article we found on The Industry Standard.
“Security was a big part of the RFP,” Peterson [Gordon Peterson, Director of IT for the city of Carlsbad] says. “We asked a lot of questions on how you do security, on their hire-fire process.” For example, Peterson wanted to know what security procedures Microsoft takes when it terminates an employee.
“I don’t know that they’d ever been asked that before,” says Peterson. But Microsoft answered the queries to Carlsbad’s satisfaction and the city recently signed on for Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite, a cloud-based service in which Microsoft hosts the city’s e-mail and collaboration services, including SharePoint, Live Meeting and instant messaging.
In the end, the city was satisfied with Microsoft’s practices and decided to move forward. I know the story might have been more sensational if they found significant issues, but what I’m excited about is the due diligence the city performed ahead of time to protect itself. While this can’t guarantee that issues won’t arise, at least the city know that it did everything possible to make an informed hiring decision.
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