Industry October / November 2010

Hidden Costs of a Bad Hire

Professional pre-employment screening reduces your company’s risk of liability

Firms budget for the financial costs of employing good staff, but many fail to consider the potentially severe implications of a bad hire. Before an employee is terminated, substantial costs are often incurred in terms of the time that management spends on corrective action, mediation and negotiation. As well as risking the firm’s reputation, losses can result from negligence or wilful misconduct, as well as by direct payments to the departing employee—and potentially unlimited legal expenses.

You can’t always identify a bad candidate at an interview, but a well-managed hiring process including pre-employment assessments and screening is a professional and very cost-effective way to reduce the risk.

In Japan, the HR department tradi-tionally carries out pre-employment screening, which often involves little more than phoning for personal referencesif they have time. More disturbing is the practice of employing a private investigator to contact neighbours and former colleagues, which is generally considered to be unethical and unreliable.

Modern pre-employment screening firms, however, ensure that candidates understand the process and have consented to their qualifications and experience being verified.

The PrivacyMark System in Japan helps to ensure that personal information and privacy are taken seriously and that firms have audited processes and procedures in compliance with that of the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee. The authorised use of PrivacyMark by private enterprises demonstrates that they comply with the law and have voluntarily established a high-level personal information protection management system. Although PrivacyMark is gaining greater recognition, it is still voluntary and too many firms handling personal information choose to avoid the costs of compliance.

You may believe that, in a country where you can forget your wallet in a restaurant and stand a good chance of it being handed in, people wouldn’t lie to get a job and that pre-employment screening is only necessary for senior executive and other key positions. Not true. We have exposed candidates who falsely claimed to have degrees and exaggerated their work experience.
Some have blamed the recruitment consultant for advising them to remove gaps in their career by extending employ-ment periods to invent a continuous history. Applicants who have studied or worked abroad might be tempted to not disclose information, such as criminal convictions, or make false claims thinking that they cannot be verified.

As a firm widely recognised as the leader in background services in the Asia-Pacific region—offering hiring solutions and pre-employment screening—we conduct checks around the world using our global reach and local expertise. Each country has different procedures and systems, with the US being one of the most open. In Japan, however, criminal records are not available to anyone and personal credit rating checks can only be requested by the individual concerned or by firms authorised to carry out credit risk assessments.

Of course, having a criminal conviction or poor personal credit history should not necessarily be a barrier for a qualified and good candidate; but creating a false history to gain employment raises immediate concerns about the applicant’s honesty, and in many countries it is also a criminal offense.