CHAPTER ONE (excerpt)
There is More Than One Type of Background Check
A call came into the office. It was from Deborah, the head
of an agency that provided temporary staffing for offices in
“I can’t seem to access my account,” she told Anna, one
of our receptionists. “Can you tell me how to log in?”
“No problem,” Anna said. “This happens all the time.
When did you last log in?”
Deborah’s response shocked Anna. “Never. I’ve never
Anna couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “My files
say that you’ve run over a hundred backgrounds checks over
the past two years with us. Are you saying that you’ve never
logged in to check the results on any of them? You’ve been
hiring people without knowing what the background checks
said? Do you even know which background checks you’ve
That’s when the truth came out. Deborah didn’t know
anything about background checks. When she came on
board, she had dismissed any offer we made to explain the
details to her, claiming she understood it well enough already.
What Deborah meant was that she assumed she didn’t need
to know anything about them. In her words, “I figured that
simply having a background check in place would do the
job for me. They would scare off anyone with a record. If an
applicant had committed a crime, surely they wouldn’t apply
once they knew I’d find out about it.”
We immediately went into emergency mode and
reviewed every one of the background checks Deborah had
not looked at. We also gave her the login information (for
what it was worth).
It turned out, she had gotten extremely lucky. None of
her employees had a record. But I made sure to explain to her that zero out of a hundred was indeed extraordinarily good fortune in our line of work.
“From now on, I’m going to help you make smarter
choices—whether you want to listen or not,” I told her. “Let’s make sure you’ve got the right checks. And then, let’s make sure you’re reviewing the information when it comes in.”