Four Common Myths Employers Face Before Hiring New Employees

Posted March 30, 2015 by
Michael Klazema

Michael Klazema

Description: From misconceptions about how background checks are actually run to misplaced trust in resume-padding job applicants, here are four of the most common myths employers must accept about the hiring process.

Perhaps you just started a new business and are looking to run your first run of hiring, or maybe you have just been promoted to a position that requires you to interview applicants and give out job offers. Either way, you are probably bringing more than a few hiring process misconceptions to the table.

From asking interview questions to deciding which resume items do or do not make a person qualified for a position, all the way to the pre-employment background check, the hiring process is fraught with pitfalls and myths that you will need to toss in the trash before you get started. Read on to find out the four most common myths employers face before hiring new employees.

1. There’s one big background check registry for you to search

Perhaps the biggest misconception that employers have about how the hiring process works is about pre-employment background checks. Running these checks is very important, because they can give you better insight on who an applicant is, and more importantly, if anything in that applicant’s past makes them unfit to perform the job at hand. Criminal records, credit reports, court filings, driving histories – these are just a few of the pieces of information that can be uncovered by a background check.

Luckily, most hiring managers nowadays know that these checks are essential. Unluckily, many employers have a misconception about how these checks actually work. More than a few hiring managers out there have this warped belief that there is some gigantic cloud or registry of all background check information just floating out there somewhere on the internet. By extension, they believe that this registry can be combed with a Google-like search system, where you simply enter a person’s name and get all of their public records instantly.

This is not how background checks work.

Instead, background check information is scattered all over place, filed away in different courts and police departments, in different counties, states, and jurisdictions. A thorough pre-employment background check, therefore, is usually several different checks.

Companies like exist to do these kinds of investigations for you, because we know which places to look and how to go about obtaining information. Suffice to say, though, that even working with us, you’ll have to decide which checks to run and what kinds of information to look for. If you’re expecting the whole process to be as easy as a Google search, you might have a rude awakening to deal with when you finally start trying to actually do a background check on an applicant.

2. Social media background checks are a good and legal way to obtain information about an applicant

In the modern information age, it’s become increasingly common for companies to look into their applicants on social media. Employers are looking for signs that their candidates are not responsible, like photographs depicting binge drinking or drug use, statuses filled with profanity or other inflammatory content, or disparaging comments about bosses or coworkers.

It’s perfectly understandable that an employer would want to do this kind of research. After all, most applicants hide parts of their true personalities—their “true colors,” you could say—in job interviews. Social media can help show who those people really are.

The problem is, social media can also show a lot more, and much of what it reveals is personal information that employers are not supposed to know about. Race, age, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs – these are just a few of the pieces of sensitive information that can be revealed on social media. As you’ll notice, these are all subjects that employers are not allowed to ask about on applications, and that’s because they often create instances of bias or discrimination.

Bottom line? If your business wants to avoid any chance of a discrimination lawsuit for its hiring practices, skip the social media searches.

3. Reference checks with past employers are a waste of time

One of the most damaging myths about the hiring process is that reference checks are no longer worthwhile. Sure, there are some past employers out there who aren’t willing to discuss former employers, or who aren’t willing to do anything but confirm job titles or dates of employment. That’s because there have been cases where past employers have been sued for defamation because they got carried away and said too much. But no lawsuit is going to hold up if an employer is simply verifying a list of an applicant’s job responsibilities or making factual statements about a job performance or punctuality.

For this reason, most employers will be willing to talk with you about an applicant. It may not be an extensive conversation, and you should stick to the facts with your questions instead of asking for opinions. In most cases, though, a reference check is the easiest way to find out whether or not an applicant is lying on their resume.

4. Applicants only lie about the small stuff

First-time hirers are sometimes a bit naïve when it comes to believing what applicants include on their resumes. Every employer these days expects to see a little bit of resume padding now and then – a job title that has been workshopped to sound more impressive, perhaps, or hiring dates that have been changed a bit to fill gaps in work experience. However, some hiring managers think that the dishonesty on a resume will only relate to minute details. No one is going to invent a college degree, or lie about a professional license or certification that they don’t have.

The truth, unfortunately, is that some applicants will lie about anything. The job market out there is tough, and if a lie can help someone to get a job, there’s a chance that it will be used. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to check everything on a resume that is making you seriously consider an applicant. Verify their college degree and dates of attendance. Verify their professional licenses and certifications. Verify that they actually worked for the companies they say they worked for. You can run all of these checks through, and all of them can save you from hiring a person under false pretenses.


The hiring process can be exciting, giving you an opportunity to interact with new and interesting people, and to pick out candidates that you believe will truly enhance your organization. It can also be stressful, though, from the hundreds of resumes you have to sift through to the dozens of interviews you have to sit through. Discarding the four myths discussed above will help you to better prepare for the reality of the employment process, and will make the whole thing more exciting and less stressful.

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 He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

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