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The Seniors & Friends,
That same question came to mind recently. When we are giving quite important task LIKE RUNNING THE NATION to the corrupt & incompetent people or giving a second chance to convicted criminals then what exactly would be the objective of the BACKGROUND CHECKING? I am really not trying to be philosophical. I just want to know :
Practically any HR who's doing a background check how far he/she can go?
Which point any HR should cover in particular?
Please guide me.
Seeking attention.
Mahua Biswas
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It is good that you clarified that you are not asking a philosophical question. At the same time I appreciate the fact that you have thought it fit to consider giving a second chance to people who could have run foul of the law but who possibly would have atoned and seek another opportunity at leading a new and more fulfilling life.

A back ground check is done primarily to collaborate the information given by the candidate in his resume, to check on vital negative information that could have been deliberately not given or possibly fudged, to do a check by way of a third party reference as to the credentials of a candidate including subjective elements like integrity and trustworthiness which would be essential where the position involves a fiduciary role or extensive dealings in monetary transactions. The check could also extend to ensuring the right experience and good fit of the candidate with the job profile envisaged.

In the case of a candidate with a conviction or a tainted background the background check would possibly focus on the following

- the candidates prima facie suitability for the job

- the record of his/ her behavioral change and improvement that collaborates the possibility of a positive transformation

- the evidence that suggests that the candidate deserves a second chance and a fresh opportunity

- the collaborative proof that the person is has a very high probability of integrating well into the society at large and become a very productive and law abiding citizen

I trust I have shared a few crucial points to enable you to believe, that the background check for those with a past, can provide you adequate information to help rehabilitate and integrate them into our society despite the aberrations in their background.

Dear B.Jacob,
Thanks a lot for your reply. I have a friend, she got divorced during 2010 & since then she is struggling to get a job. Her background is her main constrained. Initially I did not or rather I should say I could not believe. So, being slight adventurous I borrowed her profile & went for interview to some organisations & I was petrified when I saw in the name of Background Checking I was getting all sorts of irrelevant questions.
So, then the same question came to my mind & I thought it's the best platform to seek answers.
Mahua Biswas

Frankly I did not consider a divorcee as falling in the category of the deviants that I considered in my reply. However having read what you shared above, it is unfortunate that a divorcee in India particularly, is viewed suspiciously and treated differently. I may add that I find your daring adventure of masquerading as a divorcee and drawing first hand conclusions very innovative and very brave.

However I am not sure that my earlier reply has contributed much to your original query. The reality though is that the male chauvinism is prevalent in India, and it is reflected in the kind of experience that you went through. Tacking these unwarranted questions is a challenge when you are desperately seeking a job. It would be appropriate to take up the intrusive questions being raised at the interview with the management of companies so that they are alerted about the both the unethical standards of the relevant interviewer or the insensitive nature they display.

Hope I have given you some solace if not a solution to your dilemma.

Dear B.Jacob,
I am using your full name because I don't know how am I suppose to address (Sir/Madam). At first your reply was the ANSWER I was looking for. I gave the example of my friend because during middle of last year when she was sharing her pain with us, then I laughed at her & argue with her saying- Now even convicted criminals are getting a second chance, so just don't fish for sympathy. And she laughed at me saying -Then you live my life. So, I did. I lived her life.
And I learned Break in CV is so hard to explain. Probably because we have abandoned work force (1.25 Billion) in India. Hence, we don't respect.
Thanks again for your prompt reply.
God Bless You.
Mahua Biswas

I know this will not sound nice, but is your friend telling the recruitment team about the turmoil she faced, which was the reason why she 'had' to take a break ?

I have worked with blue-chip firms, and we employed people with a break in their career, as far as it was a genuine one.

I even worked with BPO, when the data scam had taken place. Post the scam, we naturally panic stricken , hence refused to hire someone , who couldn't explain the sabbatical. This is way back in 2004 , wouldn't believe , HRs are still that scared.

Back ground verification has a list of questions to be asked by the BV Firm. These questions are primarily asked to validate the educational and employment data, as provided by the candidate. A drug test and a Police verification are rare cases, considered for the talents being hired to work at the client site.

The might seem to be a sweeping statement, but your friend needs to apply with firms with higher-level thinking. We are certain she will find one such jobs.

Wishing her all the best !
Dear (Cite Contribution),
At first thanks for your reply. I didn't ask my friend about her piece of experience. As that's really going to be scratching her wound. But let's listen from me, most common questions I was getting are as follows:-
When did you got married?
Where your husband/in-laws live?
What's your husband's profession?
What is the reason of divorce?
When did you got separated?
Why did not you try to save your marriage?
Why you took the Break? etc. etc. etc.
These were not Blue chip firms. Because in Kolkata we don't have much Good Options left specially for a Graduate women who is Divorcee & above 30.
It may sounds hard but its true (Fortunately she is leaving for Gangtok, got a job there).
Mahua Biswas
Dear Mahua
To run the Nation and to run a corporate or a commercial organization both are separate issues.
We are witnessing the result of giving second chance to the criminal type of people to run the Nation.
So for your query as to how far any HR should go while checking background of a candidate and what point it should cover is concern, I am of the opinion that there cannot be set any fix formula for that it would depend on the profile of the job concerned.
Suppose if any candidate is being interviewed for the post of any clerical type of job profiles the criteria of checking his/her background be different then if it is for the post of any other senior post like spokesperson of a corporate, works manager… etc.
The HR can go as far as the job profiles warrants.
Thanks for reply. I asked that question on the basis of a bitter experience. If you read all my reply on that post you would get the reason.
When we are saying AS FAR, then the real question is how far.
Mahua Biswas
Hello Mahua Biswas,

I do appreciate & empathize with the situation you mentioned.

However, looks like there are THREE issues that seem to have been mixed-up--quite understandable when it's YOU who faced the flak.

The issues are: (1) Background Checks (2) Break in career--leading to all sorts of queries from HR in the interviews & (3) how tough it is to get a job after a divorce.

Taking the First one--Background Checks--like (Cite Contribution) mentioned, they are 'primarily to validate the educational and employment data, as provided by the candidate'. As of today, any Employment BC in India does not include Criminal BC--which actually needs access to Police records [it's prevalent in other countries though].

Next the Second one--Career Break. Suggest look @ this aspect from the HR's perspective [like you put yourself in your friend's shoes, for a moment, think you are HR]. How would you be sure that the career-break is for logical & reasonably justifiable reasons unless you inquire pointedly--while watching the words being spoken along with the body-language?

If you go thru some of the threads in CiteHR, you would realize that there will be persons who resign for flimsy reasons & then when he/she finds it tough to get another job, come-out with all sorts of stories for the career gap. Hope you get the point.

Now coming to the Third--actual--reason for you posting this thread--Settling again in career after a divorce [with the associated career gap, mental agony & low psychological threshold]. This specific issue was discussed earlier in CiteHR [not sure when exactly, but would be over a year back I guess].

The key to handle such issues in interviews would be to PREEMPT the topic veering towards this issue at all. Since once this point comes on the table, there's no way one can avoid answering to any/all queries w.r.t. the divorce--if the reply is avoided, it COULD be perceived as 'avoiding' rather than a 'hesitation to revisit a painful past'.

Frankly, I know this is tough to accept--but that's the world we live in. So better to preempt than to give scope for the situation & then go about resolving/handling it.

I recollect having suggested in the earlier thread that the best response for a career gap due to this specific reason could be:

"My presence was absolutely needed @ home due to personal/family reasons. With personal commitments, didn't want to do a job half-heartedly--hence left the earlier job. Now that things have settled down @ the personal front, want to take up a job again".

Though the wordings can change, the jist is this.

There are 3 angles one would be covering by such a stand: (1) NOT lying--since a divorce too is a strictly personal matter (2) Usually no HR insists on discussing the issue further once the 'personal reason' stand is taken--preempting the topic to go in the direction you DON'T want to (3) Once things settle down [assuming the Offer is made] & depending on the one's comfort level, the details can be revealed later to whoever can be trusted to understand the situation, without adverse/cynical comments--thereby avoiding any unwanted attention from 'male chauvinists' (like Jacob mentioned).

And, I think, I had also mentioned in the earlier thread that you would ALSO be SUBTLY conveying the commitment to anything you take-up to do—you didn’t continue with the earlier job just for the sake of salary, even though you could have done it. Hope you get what I mean.

Hope I have understood & covered what you actually wanted to convey.

All the Best.


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