With remote hiring here to stay, employers must mitigate the risks that come with the trend by putting in place rigorous vetting procedures.
Remote working has given way to something that, to many, seemed unfathomable just a few years ago: companies hiring people they’ve never actually met in person.
Remote hiring became a necessity during months-long lockdowns, and it has remained more than a fleeting trend in today’s workplace.
A survey of 140 global HR, talent acquisition and business leaders by Cielo Talent found that, during the pandemic, 59% of respondents had been interviewing candidates over video, with 65% extending offers without having met candidates in person.
The same survey indicates that virtual recruitment processes had been successful, with many tactics set to stay post-crisis: 82% of hiring managers plan to continue interviewing candidates by video, while 32% feel confident to continue making offers without meeting candidates face-to-face.
While this brings with it many benefits ‘ firms can access a much wider, even international, pool of talent ‘ it also has potential risks that demand more rigorous vetting procedures.
Unfortunately, candidates lying about their academic background, job history or skills is not as uncommon as some employers might like to believe. One in 10 respondents to a 2017 YouGov survey admitted to lying on their CVs, in particular when it came to their education and qualifications.
Why do some candidates do this? It’s certainly become increasingly easy to ‘buy’ credentials from the internet. An investigation by the BBC in 2018 revealed that thousands of UK residents had purchased fake degrees from made-up universities such as Brooklyn Park University and Nixon University via ‘diploma mills’ in Pakistan.
And it could be that the more competitive a role or sector is, the more candidates are inclined to tweak the truth in order to gain an edge.
But falsely burnishing your CV with fake credentials can have serious consequences. In December, the Evening Standard reported that a woman who landed a senior NHS job after lying on her CV and making up references had been jailed for 12 months. A court heard she pretended to have a Master’s degree qualification, lied about her previous role at a charity and had written some of her references herself ‘ lies which left a wholly-unqualified person in charge of an important role in the local NHS infrastructure.
Proper vetting of job candidates, then, is clearly crucial. Employee screening and background checking can cover everything from verifying someone’s academic qualifications and employment history ‘ something that may be particularly useful for employers hiring overseas ‘ to checking whether they have a criminal record or a history of bankruptcy.
On a more fundamental level, it can also involve identity checks to verify someone is indeed who they claim to be.
In some sectors, such as financial services or roles that involve working with children, background checks are routine, so as to comply with regulatory frameworks or for safety reasons. But in others, employers are failing to run even cursory checks on candidates.
Why might this be? Hiring is already a long process ‘ it can take up to 49 days depending on the industry, according to a 2021 analysis by LinkedIn. With some sectors having to fight for talent ‘ the number of job vacancies was at a record high at the time of writing, according to the ONS ‘ there could be a reluctance to further prolong the process.
However, the availability of automated background checking services, which are much quicker than traditional, analogue processes, means this need not be a concern.
That said, employers who do run background checks on prospective employees need to be aware of complying with legal requirements and should keep candidates up-to-date and informed throughout the process.
Those who don’t risk alienating potential hires: a study by Indeed found 28% of candidates admitted to ghosting their prospective employer, with lack of communication being one of the reasons driving their behaviour.
Employers should not be afraid to embrace the opportunities the post-pandemic world of work presents to them. But careful candidate screening must be an integral part of their hiring process if they want to make a real success of it.