A crucial element in thoroughly checking a candidate’s background is to check all of their background. This might seem like common sense, but in today’s increasingly cosmopolitan world, often this includes verifying elements of a candidate’s past overseas – and this, on the surface, can seem rather daunting. A few years in Delhi, a stint in Singapore and a string of previous addresses in Paris could reveal just as much about a candidate as their hiring company’s standard, domestic recruitment procedure. Equal importance should be given to verifying the international elements of a candidate’s past, and validating the information and documentation they provide with sources as close as possible to their origin.

The prevalence of degree mills both in Australia and overseas has highlighted the importance of verifying qualifications directly with institutes or governing bodies, not just taking authentic-looking certificates at face value. Companies that produce these falsified degrees go to great lengths to make them look and feel genuine, and those who use them would benefit greatly from the added buffer of having “obtained it” overseas. The scary thing is, that often they will be correct in assuming their certificates will never be checked against the issuing authority’s records if it is outside the scope of their future employer’s existing screening policy.

Similarly, a check on international employment history could reveal gaps or discrepancies in employment information; this could be anything from an inflated salary to the cover up of a series of terminations for behavioural issues or misconduct. Recently, Dr Jayant Patel, who moved to Bundaberg from the United States, was tried for grievous bodily harm, manslaughter, and convicted on four counts of fraud for failing to disclose that he had been struck off the New York State medical register seventeen months prior. In addition, he had conditions applied to his registration in Oregon, on procedures which he practiced openly on patients in Queensland. This is exactly the kind of horror story that demonstrates the value of verifying the relevant aspects of a candidate’s past before hiring, especially into a position that carries implications of risk and trust.

Mitigating Risks

As a business, you may be looking to:

  • Expand overseas;
  • Merge;
  • Outsource services;
  • Commence a transnational project; or
  • Hire a candidate who has, at some point, lived, worked or studied abroad.

The simple fact is that international screening is invaluable, and its implications are far-reaching. Introducing an international flavour into your business creates many layers of risk. This risk can undermine even the most robust domestic screening program. One bad apple can certainly ruin the bunch.

International screening of a potential hire should be given the same degree of importance as verifying a candidate’s past domestically. International screening, like domestic policies, can highlight everything from previous criminal records to a falsified qualification or a poor work ethic. A consistent approach across an organisation, regardless of location is imperative to minimise risks to your business.

Take the case of Dr Max Mehta, for example, who was held in Dallas, Texas for soliciting sex from a deaf minor in an online chat room. Before his trial, he changed his name to Robert Taylor, skipped bail and emigrated to New Zealand, then again to Australia in 2009, where he secured a job as a Radiologist in Victoria. The lack of Criminal and Employment background checks in this instance is alarming, especially for a candidate employed in such a position of trust with daily access to vulnerable persons.

Similarly, swimming coach Brian King, currently under investigation for child abuse in his role of trust, has been accused of fabricating a number of achievements and qualifications in Australia on his resume. He claimed to have falsified two degrees from the University of Adelaide which were disproved, and a number of other accolades that did not actually exist in order to secure a position at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, along with other high profile coaching positions.

The risks associated with bad hires are not just limited to these industries, but across all sectors, and business types. Robust, international background investigations, in the examples above, would have exposed these discrepancies much earlier at the point of employment, and would have mitigated the reputational and financial damage of the businesses and institutions involved.

Recommended Legal Considerations

There are a great many considerations that go into international screening including the intricacies of global data protection and privacy, trans-border data flow, best practices, and the accurate extraction of meaningful information.

Country-specific legislation surrounding the availability and use of personal information for background checking is particularly important, as some countries have strict regulations on appropriate causes for accessing a candidate’s personal information. Not all information is legally available in all countries in the same manner as it is here in Australia; in fact, some countries still do not have facilities for national records, such as criminal records and other simply do not allow its release. Restrictions on the uses of credit information in some US states for employment purposes is one such example of this, and proof that the legal landscape involving the protection of personal data is constantly shifting and evolving.

 Recommended Process Considerations

 In addition to the legal considerations to be taken with international screening, there are a number of procedural considerations that must be measured as well. Dealing with a range of different countries means that cultural sensitivity must be observed at all times, and a high degree of reflexivity is required to work through time, language and cultural barriers. In Germany, for example, it is not generally culturally acceptable to request confirmation of salary information when conducting employment verifications, as this is considered highly intrusive, although not illegal.

Processes for checks vary greatly from country-to-country in everything from availability to turnaround time, to specific candidate requirements. Because of this,

PeopleCheck prides itself on its international knowledge and endeavors to ensure that all processes for international checks are legal and as streamlined as possible for our candidates and clients. This often means drawing on global networks and establishing relationships with local authorities.

PeopleCheck fully appreciates the complexities that each region has in terms of varying availability of information, privacy legislation and cultural differences and the way these impact on background checking.

More Information

For more information on the ways in which international background checks can assist in reducing the risks to your business, please contact us via telephone on +612 4023 0603 or  email at validate@peoplecheck.com.au.

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