6 Tips to Meet the Unique Challenges of Executive Background Screening

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While most companies have developed some type of employment background screening program for individual contributors, managers, directors and even temporary employees, many have not developed a well thought out process for screening executives. However, this is one of the most critical groups of employees to screen.

An executive with a history of negligent behavior and decision-making can quickly change from being one of your organisation’s greatest assets to its biggest financial and reputational burden.

There are also many high-profile examples of executive hiring mistakes that have resulted in reputational and financial damage to the employer. Failing to properly background screen executive candidates could result in a bad hire that could cost millions of pounds.

One of the best ways to ensure you have the tools to make the right executive hiring decision is to partner with a full-service background screening provider experienced in executive search. With the right executive search provider and proper employment background screening policies in place, you can better mitigate the risk of hiring an executive that does not meet your hiring requirements, while also ensuring a better candidate experience.

The Six Unique Challenges of Executive Search

Executive hiring is a challenge because, unlike regular employees, executive job candidates have unique professional histories and high expectations during the hiring process. An executive candidate will also have a more significant role at your company than the average employee, resulting in the need for a more thorough background check.

Whether you’re hiring an executive leader for a publicly traded company, privately owned business or even a non-profit organisation, you’ll need to establish an executive search and hiring process that goes beyond your normal hiring practices.

Here are six of the main challenges involved in executive search, followed by suggestions about how effective background screening can mitigate the risk of those challenges.

1. The Candidate Experience

While a good candidate often understands the importance of a background check and authorisation form, they may be put off by requests to visit websites and enter personal information, or to speak with third parties.

Solution: Work with a provider that offers professional interactions, sensitivity to the executive’s time and a white glove approach to the handling of personal information.

2. Extensive Address History

Executives are often geographically mobile between previous work and education locations.

Solution: Look for an executive search provider who is able to search for information in all locations where the candidate may have left a footprint.  Use an extended ten-year search scope for information anywhere the applicant lived, worked and attended school.

3. Financial Access

Unlike regular employees, executive candidates frequently have access to company funds and make decisions impacting an organisation’s financial health.

Solution: Employers may choose to view the manner in which a person has handled his or her own finances or those of a previous employer as indicators of future behaviour.

4. Conflicts of Interest

Executives may have other affiliations, such as board memberships and corporate ties that may pose conflicts of interest.

Solution: To obtain a thorough picture of a candidate’s associations, work with a vendor who researches all affiliations to prevent harmful conflicts of interest.

5. Public Relations Experience

If the company comes under media scrutiny for good or bad events, then executive officers may act as spokespersons.

Solution: Partner with a screening vendor that looks at media research, to determine how a candidate has managed interviews for publications and media outlets in the past.

6. Confidentiality

Executive candidates may be more concerned about privacy and confidentiality given the public nature of the position and salary requirements that come with it.

Solution: Partner with a trusted, knowledgeable screening provider who can ensure confidentiality.

These are just some of the challenges that an executive search committee may face.

When partnering with an employment background screening firm, be sure the provider addresses the concerns above and covers, at a minimum, these crucial areas of executive background checks: criminal history, debt and financial management history, litigation history, regulatory filings & sanctions searches, media and online research and verification of education, employment and other affiliations. By addressing these six challenges when hiring an executive, you can help protect your organisation from a potentially expensive bad hire.


The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any statutes or laws cited in this article should be read in their entirety. If you or your customers have questions concerning compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations, we suggest that you address these directly with your legal department or outside counsel.

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