How to make sure your background screening goes smoothly

Ben Mabelson is Compliance Manager at Momenta and leads the team who carries out the screening for prospective contractors. Here he gives some insight to their process and offers some tips to how to achieve an easy, fast, vetting experience.

Why Momenta carries out background screening

An offer of a contract with Momenta is always subject to meeting the background screening requirements of our clients.

We are required to satisfy ourselves and our clients that all contractors joining projects are who they say they are, hold the experience they claim and are of the highest honesty and integrity. The checks we carry out are specifically designed to minimise the risk of hiring the wrong candidate and protect our business and clients.  

The process highlights inaccuracy. Applicants want to impress when submitting their CV for a role, however it has become increasingly common for CV’s to be embellished. Job titles can be different, and employment dates extended to either enhance particular experience or cover up a gap in employment.

Background checks have become more rigorous

In my seven years at Momenta I have seen significant changes to background screening policies and procedures. More references are required for candidates with stricter guidelines in place regarding what makes them acceptable.

Criminal and credit reference checks are now standard and clients take a much tougher line on any adverse information or discrepancies flagged.

We have come across candidates going to increasing lengths to fraudulently obtain a role. For example, falsifying experience, making up companies, quoting false references.

Almost two thirds (64%) of job applications contained errors in 2015, according to new research by HireRight, the global candidate due diligence company.

This represents an 8% rise in the proportion of people, either deliberately or accidentally, including incorrect details when applying for a job (from 56% in 2014).

Standard client requirements

We have a comprehensive checklist which we and our clients look for and these are typically:

-          Consent to carry out checks

-          Basic Criminal Check

-          Fit and Proper Persons Questionnaire

-          ID and Right to Work

-          Right to Work verified using document verification tools

-          Full 5 year referencing and address history held

-          Proof of Residence

-          Certificates

-          Client specific forms

-          Media Check

-          Credit reference checks

-          Sanctions Check

-          Fraud database check

-          References covering the past 3 years. Gaps in employment investigated and evidence obtained to support activities.

-          Education and Professional Qualifications verified.

We need to ask deeper personal questions sometimes

The essence of carrying out successful background screening of a candidate means we have to ask personal questions and delve into their pasts.

We are required to investigate all declared/undeclared issues that are flagged by our checks and this involves asking personal information or perhaps digging into areas of candidates past they are not so keen to talk about.

We need to obtain evidence to verify candidates’ activity during periods of non-employment. Examples are passport stamps/itineraries for holidays or travelling and benefit statements to show job seekers allowance being claimed. In situations whereby candidates were simply out of work and not claiming benefits, we would typically ask for bank statements as a form of evidence to rule out any undeclared activity during that time.

Some common problems that come up

The main inconsistencies that we see include the following:

  • CV Discrepancies – dates and job titles not matching those on references received
  • Incorrect documents being sent in
  • Proof of address - our clients have strict standards regarding what is acceptable
  • Forms being sent in with ticks missing or sections not completed
  • Missing roles or home addresses from the 5 year reference and address history form
  • If references are outstanding ahead of a candidates’ start, it’s possible to obtain a waiver from the client for them to start however we would need comprehensive evidence to prove they worked in the role – supplying this data in good time helps massively.  

Ensure you have a smooth background check process

Provide accurate information upon application for a role. Read all our emails clearly and ask questions of anything you are unsure of.

Provide requested information in good time. We often work to short deadlines and need to sign off files in advance of start date.

The most important thing is simply be honest. Be upfront about possible skeletons in the closet that need explaining and remember you can be searched online so make sure your digital footprint tells the correct story. Our assessments are in place to make sure you have the right talent and skills – we just need to make sure your background references accurately support you.

If you’d like to register with us send your CV to cv@momentagroup.com stating your current availability for work and any positions you might be interested in. Current vacancies can be found here