By: Dr. (Col) John Chenetra 11 MAY, 2018

The idea of comprehensive background checks are slowly but surely gaining acceptance. They function as a failsafe measure in the company’s favor by helping the organization determine whether or not the candidate they’re considering hiring is the right fit and if the details on their resume are authentic.

Why Background Check?

The real strength of a comprehensive background check is the fact that to a large degree it eliminates the risk of hiring an employee who may be a fraudster, a criminal, or simply just incompetent by meticulously scanning their government-issued IDs, proof of residence, educational qualifications, work history, criminal record and even psychometric profiles. In a world where the actions of a single malicious or incompetent person can permanently damage a company’s public image or relationships, no precautions are too stringent.

There needs to be a certain amount of trust between an employer and his employees and comprehensive screening mechanisms can do much to assure an organization that its resources are who they say they are and truly have the interests of the company at heart.

India is still on-course to fully adopting a system of comprehensive background verifications for new employees and KYE processes for existing staff, which is why the country is continuously plagued by insider-driven scams like the recent PNB escapade. Indian companies, now more than ever, need to adopt comprehensive screening mechanisms, but that’s easier said than done, given the sheer size and complexity of the country. Here are some fundamental barriers that inhibit background checks in India.

The Absence of a Central Data Repository

India lacks a single entity from which a company can source all the relevant data it requires to properly conduct a background check. Instead, the information they need i.e. educational records, police records, court records, credit reports and others, must be individually obtained from a multitude of different organizations such as police precincts, courts, universities and financial institutions. The bureaucratic functioning of these organizations can be extremely frustrating to companies and serves as perhaps the most serious impediment to the employee screening process.

It’s A Difficult, Long-Drawn Process

Given the number of organizations and institutions that a company must coordinate with in order to source relevant documents regarding an applicant, the background screening process is as complicated as it is time-consuming. This results in a very dicey situation because the first priority of Human Resource departments is to recruit new talent to fill in vacancies while conducting background checks is an ancillary role. What this essentially means is that companies are forced to choose whether to hire a candidate to fill in an urgent vacancy, or wait anywhere between a few weeks to months to get relevant documents in order, to begin with, a comprehensive background check. Faced with this difficult decision, most companies choose the former.

Despite the difficulties that these barriers present and the effort required to conduct background checks, they are well worth the rewards.

India’s Size And Population

With a population of 1.3 billion people and an area of more than 3 million square kilometers, India is an absolute behemoth of a country. Its sheer size and complexity make obtaining documents relevant to a single individual extremely difficult and that’s without taking into account the language barriers that exist from state to state. Unlike others, the previous two barriers which can and will change over time, this cannot change, simply because it is brought about by the very nature of the country itself.

Despite the difficulties that these barriers present and the effort required to conduct background checks, they are well worth the rewards. A chain is only as good as its weakest link and the same goes for human enterprises. Hiring the wrong person in a job simply to save a little money in the short term, just isn’t worth the risk.