I have a strange situation where I have had to take over a network from a newly employed IT professional (4 months) because he now is in jail pending serious fraud charges (unrelated to the job). I was present at his initial interview where he had a clean police record. But we have since found out that he was in fact convicted for similar issues some three years previously. Unfortunately in the third World getting a signed clean police record is not very difficult if you know the right people.

My question is, are there ways to mitigate against hiring someone else with similar issues given that there are no companies doing background checks that could be tasked with it. The job is currently being advertised and I'm sure I will be asked to sit in on the interviews again and hiring this chap cost the company a lot of grief.

At this point the only thing I can come up with is discussing the candidates in depth with their prior workplaces. In this country two references are required at interviews, neither of which are particularly appealing to me. A reference from their local Church leader and another from basically anyone who owns a business or holds a chiefly title or a govt official. So these tend to be from the candidates extended family or people who don't really know them well.

  • Are you legally unable to ask for useful references? Or more than two? You'll probably need to specify the country really as what you're describing are serious constraints on a hiring process.
    – Lilienthal
    Jan 16, 2016 at 1:16
  • this is the norm, can ask for whatever you want, but I have no control over that, I'm an outsider to the company, working on a consultant basis.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 16, 2016 at 1:29
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    You could use their references to ask for another reference, who might give you a better and more unbaised perspective?
    – enderland
    Jan 16, 2016 at 1:55
  • I actually did that once since one reference was a relative of mine. Long story short he had no idea who the person was, just signed a reference someone had given him who was the mother of the guy.... but that's a good idea though, I think I'll have to attack the issue from multiple angles.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 16, 2016 at 2:11
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    @Kilisi I'd try to make the argument to the hiring company that they should request candidates provide professional references instead of personal ones. But of course you might not have much luck with that so I'd be interested in seeing the answers here.
    – Lilienthal
    Jan 16, 2016 at 11:52

3 Answers 3


In any country where it's that easy to get a "clean" criminal record check, it's likely to be just as easy to get a real criminal record check through leveraging connections. I would suggest to your client that they not trust any police document produced by the candidate but instead attempt to gather clean police data themselves.

This wouldn't fly in the first world due to privacy issues, however in any country where you would legitimately expect privacy regarding government records you would likely alse expect legitimacy of government documents.

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    In a country where you can buy a favor from a cop to get a certificate saying you've got a clean record, it stands to reason that you can buy a favor from a cop to get someone's real records. It perpetuates police corruption however a local business is likely more concerned with surviving in the corrupt system rather than changing it.
    – Myles
    Jan 18, 2016 at 17:09
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    I pretty much came to the same conclusion, the only way to do it is to leverage personal networks. So contacts in the police and within the industry is the way I have decided to go. I'm persona non grata over there myself at the moment since I just got a sergeant suspended and being investigated but I have found other resources.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 18, 2016 at 18:08
  • Other than being a minor, how is your police record, assuming conviction, considered private in the first world? It would be public record in the US.
    – user8365
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:33
  • In Canada it is private cbc.ca/news/canada/… and I'm pretty sure in Germany and the UK it is private as well.
    – Myles
    Jan 19, 2016 at 21:04
  • @JeffO: In Germany it is private - only you (and certain government agencies / courts) have access. In addition, records are permanently sealed and expunged after a while. Employers could ask you to obtain and present a criminal record, but this is usually only done for "high-trust" jobs (typically when you work with money or with children). Also, there is no police or arrest record - only convictions are on record.
    – sleske
    Sep 30, 2016 at 8:35

are there ways to mitigate against hiring someone else with similar issues given that there are no companies doing background checks

If you cannot have an effective background check performed, and you worry that the pool of candidates will have issues, you must find a better source of trust.

Internal referrals often make for great hires. You may choose to only hire people you know personally, or people who personally know people you trust.

Sometimes a large internal referral bonus can help bring a good "known" candidate to apply.

  • Good idea, I have been looking for people I know personally or can find someone to vouch for.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 18, 2016 at 18:06

Personally I believe references or anything else does not dictate or predict future behavior. Therefore it is best not to rely on them.

The best bet is to talk at length of their past. Look out for inconsistencies. In the conversation switch around the times to talk about - i.e talk about something they have already talked about.

In addition when hiring just have a probation period. Use this time to find out about them and also just give the person only access to what they need.

You can then build up trust over time. This is like any relationship - business or otherwise.

  • good advice, and that will definitely be an angle to pursue, I'll suggest it to HR. My role is mainly to ascertain their technical competency, but this is a decade + and very satisfactory old client so I'm going to do whatever extra I can.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 16, 2016 at 12:34
  • the chap didn't do anything dodgy at work, his offences were outside the workplace, the thing is he came with a clean police record which was false as he had prior convictions for fraud. If they'd known about his priors he wouldn't have got the job.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 16, 2016 at 22:08
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    The thing is you have to do your best on the information that is known. There will always be people that creep through. Also ex felons do need a second chance.
    – Ed Heal
    Jan 16, 2016 at 22:12
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    second chance is ok, but only if it's upfront, not using dodgy documents
    – Kilisi
    Jan 16, 2016 at 23:52

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