How do you know if your employees have a sordid past?

The most recent case of the past coming up to bite someone was the firing of Miss Sprint Cup Paige Duke for nude photos of herself popping up on the internet. Emailed to an ex-boyfriend when she was just eighteen, the pics, considered harmless in some circles, cost the young lady her job. Does this count as “sordid” behavior or just a mistake of youth, one that many of us could have made if we grew up in the computer age? As an employer, you’d probably want to know if those pictures were out there, particularly if you were putting an employee in a public position like Paige had.
You will of course ask questions about the past when you interview, but how do you know if all the truth comes out? Someone who needs a job isn’t going to admit to having been photographed naked if they don’t think the pics will ever come out. Do you think Paige expected those photos to leak the way they did? Of course not, unless she leaked them herself (it happens). No one wants to have a company’s recruitment tracking system tagging them as a “nude model”. You’re not likely to have to deal with that issue specifically, but background checks can only protect you so much. How do you know what the real truth is?
Look at any job recruiting software and you’ll find pre-designed fields for criminal background checks and drug testing. These are both a good idea if you’re a small business owner or hiring manager. The potential personnel pools are large right now because of high unemployment, so you can afford to be picky. Still, it’s not a crime to snap a few naked pictures, unless the object of your photos doesn’t know you’re doing it. It’s also not a crime to think like a deviate, drink too much at home, or be difficult to get along with. These are character traits that won’t come out in one interview.

Check references. Ask specific questions when you do. The dates might match up and the job description is probably accurate, but what about the candidates performance on the job and relationship skills with co-workers? There are ways you can phrase these questions so that they won’t seem overly personnel. The answers are critical to whether or not you hire the candidate, right? Ask what their job applicant tracking said about this person. Maybe the recruiter’s first impression over there matches your own.
Truth comes out when the person is relaxed and feels he or she is among friends. If you’re looking for full disclosure in an interview, create a relaxed atmosphere in your interview room that will make candidates feel more comfortable. If Paige Duke had come clean on her nude pics when she was first interviewed, would she have kept her job today? Probably not – she wouldn’t have gotten it in the first place (morals clause), and the employer (who could be you) would not have been faced with the embarrassment and media backlash of the whole affair.


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