Hiring Horror Story Part I: A Bad Criminal Check

[Phone rings]

Ann: “BOO!”

Customer [takes a beat]

Ann: “Sorry, feeling festive. Cutting Edge, Ann speaking.”

Customer: “Are you a fan of horror movies?”

Ann: “Stephen King books keep me at night.” [Believes it has nothing to do with 8 cups of coffee]

Customer: “I’m feeling festive, too. Why don’t you spin us a yarn about a background check horror story.”

Ann [lights pumpkin-scented candle, grabs a handful of candy corn}: “Where to begin. . .let’s start with a criminal check story.”


You know I have a couple favorite (yeah, I should get out more) criminal search stories. In case you’re on the fence on whether or not criminal record searches are worth it, consider, if you will. . .

Tale from the Criminal Crypt #1

  • I ran a criminal search for a long-time client. His applicant was convicted of embezzlement (his business was loan financing for a construction firm). I picked up the phone to call and give him the heads up that this report was on its way.
  • My client started to laugh. The applicant sat across him at the desk three hours earlier. My client told her, “you have the job—as long as you haven’t been convicted of embezzlement or something.”
  • She said, “No.” Hands in her lap, looked him in the eye.


Tale from the Criminal Crypt #2

  • Probably the scariest person I have ever run a background check on was like something out of Law and Order. He was convicted of robbery and rape on three separate occasions in the late 1990’s. Usually that would be too old to report for the state in which we were working, but he was on the nationwide sex offender registry. The odd thing was, the registry showed him being incarcerated until 2016.
  • We dug around, and learned that he was released from prison in the early 2000’s. The state immediately had him civilly committed until 2016 because he did unspeakable things in prison.

Now, you’re thinking, okay—fine, you catch the scary people. Hang on, there are just a couple things I really want to point out:

  1. Both of these applicants got through the interview process and were deemed “fit enough” to proceed with the background check.
  2. On a daily basis 25-50% of the people we do background checks on have some kind of reportable criminal offense.

If you’re going to stay up all night, that’s fine. Read Stephen King, drink eight cups of coffee. But don’t keep yourself up wondering if your pre-employment background checks are adequate. Check back here for more Tales from the Background Check Crypt.