Have you ever really thought about what would be said of you by a previous employer? As Confucius once said, “Study the past if you would divine the future”. Psychologists have long since agreed that one of the best predictors of future behaviour is how an individual has acted in the past. Background checking is all about painting a picture of a candidate based on their past, in an attempt to mitigate any risk that similar behaviour might pose in their future.
When PeopleCheck verifies a candidate’s employment with a previous organisation, our team asks a variety of questions, but one of the most telling can be the candidate’s reason for leaving. This is a short and sometimes underestimated question; but one that can be a strong indicator or qualities such as commitment, honesty and reliability.
For example, would you like to employ someone who “showed up for two shifts and then sent a text to say she wasn’t going to be working here anymore”? Or might you think twice about a job applicant with a track record of going away on holiday to never be seen again by their employer? We have also had a recent cover-up with medical implications, with a candidate who stated they resigned, but an employer who disclosed that the candidate injured their hand and never returned to work. Then there are the steady stream of candidates who claim they left their employers voluntarily, only for the organisations to advise they were terminated for various reasons, including issues such as poor performance and dishonesty.
However, our personal favourite was a lively response from a former employer to being asked whether they would re-employ a candidate: “No – she is the type of person to chew and stab you in your backside”.
These cases illustrate just how important it is that a prospective employer verifies a candidate’s reason for leaving their previous positions, as well as food for thought about how (and how not!) to leave things with your employer when it is time to move on.