Background Checks

When all the books on the theory and practice of business have been read, when all he collective wisdom of all the business schools has been absorbed, what is the primary reason why any business succeeds? It is because of the quality of the products? Is it a new manufacturing process? Is it through new technological innovation? Is it through the utilization of the most modern plants and high-tech equipment? Nope! Ultimately, it is through people that businesses succeed and thrive over the long run.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good [people] to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

In order for a business to survive and thrive over the long run, the most fundamental function is the careful selection of the best people for the job that needs doing.

In my 36+ years in the background and reference checking business, it’s my personal view that the employee selection process is more important than any other field of business endeavor, in spite of the fact that many managers still can’t agree on the terms being used in background and reference checking, let alone how to carry out the exercise to help insure that the best people are actually hired. How many times have you heard an ad on television that trumpets that their employees or companies have been pre-screened or had a background check done? What, exactly, to you suppose they mean by that? What was screened and what was checked? Because there’s no common understanding of what those terms mean, nobody really knows—but it sounds good to hear that something was checked. Most of the time what is meant by using terms like “pre-screened” or “background check” is nothing more than a court check or a quick check with the Better Business Bureau. To suggest, therefore, that someone or some company was pre-screened or that a background check was done is teetering on the brink of being deceptive. There is so much more to it, even if it’s just a better understanding what can be screened or checked.

The essential point remains the same, however. Hiring the best people for the job to be done is critical to the success of every business. The first step in that process is understanding what is meant by terms like “background check” and “reference check.” In a nutshell, a background check is making sure that the candidate for employment is all he claims to be, while a reference checking is making sure that the candidate for employment can do all he claims he can.