Background Checks

The mere size of an organization can create process consistency problems – process consistency being defined in this instance as ensuring that every candidate for employment and every new hire have been treated the same way in terms of the hiring process (e.g., interviewing, background and reference checking, and any other steps that company HR policy requires).  In many instances, for example, the simple fact that various business units may be scattered across several states makes it difficult to ensure that each and every step in the process is followed uniformly.


Large corporations, particularly ones that contain business units that have been acquired, by nature tend toward individualism because they’re used to doing things the way they did before acquisition, which makes the implementation of process consistency all the more difficult.  Further complicating the situation is the tendency by some corporations to allow separate business units to maintain some autonomy that, by definition, tends to discourage process consistency in the identification, evaluation, and selection of new employees.

Once upon a time I was asked to do a process consistency audit for a large employer to see if the hiring practices were uniformly being carried out at all their locations.  During the course of the audit I asked the HR manager the question, “Your policy manual states that the functional manager is supposed to contact two additional references before making a hiring decision.  How often do you think that happens?”

The response?  “Less than half of the time.”


“Well, our functional managers get busy doing other things, and not all of them really know how to check references, so those additional references aren’t always called.”

In this particular situation, the people in HR acknowledged that company policy wasn’t being followed and they admitted they didn’t know what questions were being asked when additional references were contacted!  Nor did they know if other functional managers were asking the same or different questions, or whether hiring decisions were being based on questions that shouldn’t have been asked in the first place!  How scary is that?

The forgoing example illustrates what can happen when no one is monitoring the overall corporate hiring function to insure that process consistency exists.