“Don’t they trust me?”  

That question is heard frequently in and around the employment circuit, usually in regards to the pre-employment background check. An applicant who poses this question has generally gone to great lengths to impress his or her prospective employers on the application, on the resume, and in the interview. They think they’ve made a great impression and they believe themselves to be an absolute shoo-in for the position. But then the employer pulls out a consent form to get the applicant’s permission for a pre-employment background check, and the applicant feels put off. “Don’t they trust me?” the job searcher wonders confusedly.

The answer, to be perfectly frank, is no. Quite simply, employers looking for a new hire – especially for a high-profile executive position – can’t afford to trust their applicants. There are a few reasons for this mistrust. First of all, resumes, job applications, and interviews – while they can tell an employer quite a lot about an applicant – aren’t necessarily foolproof ways for employers to really get to know who the person is. In fact, job hunters who have been through more than a few interviews have learned to always emphasize their best qualities to employers while simultaneously hiding their less attractive ones. An employer needs to know both sets of qualities to make an informed hiring decision, and the background check is one effective way to do this.

Another reason that employers perform pre-employment background checks on their applicants is that it protects them from any potential liability issues. An employer can think an applicant is the nicest person in the world, but unless a background check is performed, there is no way to be sure that said “nicest person” isn’t hiding a history of felonies or a sex offender registrations. If the employer hires a criminal and one of their workers or customers is hurt as a result, the business can be held liable for the offense and can easily be destroyed or devastated by ensuing legal entanglements.

Hiring processes alone can also be extremely expensive, stressful, and time consuming. An employer can’t afford to go through the whole process only to hire the wrong person, so even if they find an applicant in the first interview who meets every one of their requirements, it is still in their best interest to run a background check and protect themselves. Hiring the wrong person can disrupt team relations, hurt company morale, lower overall productivity, and even lose a business customers or clients.

Furthermore, a business not only has to protect its customers and workers from a criminal applicant, but itself as well. For instance, someone guilty of fraud or embezzlement being put in charge of a company’s finances is an obvious recipe for disaster.

Ultimately though, the “do they trust me?” question is a moot one for one overarching reason: an employer needs to screen every applicant in the same way, and while the background check may be no more than a formality in some cases, it is still essential in making a sure a business is hiring within equal employment opportunity guidelines.

About the author: Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.