Saturday, January 28, 2017

What are the most overrated qualities employers look for in a job candidate?

Credit rating.

Using a credit score to assess risk of embezzlement or theft, or as a measure of 'character', is about as ignorant and irresponsible as anyone's, or any company's, hiring process gets.

Image result for free credit report guy

Dishonest people who are likely to steal don't care about the debts reported on their credit, anyway: if anything, they'll have very few showing because they use little credit and deal primarily in cash. Those who do steal don't do it to pay lawful debts of long standing. A debt problem of sufficiently lengthy standing to show up on a credit report is rarely the incentive or motive for someone who actually steals. When debt is the motive for theft or embezzlement, it's more likely someone who's being pressed for payment at the moment - perhaps by a bookie, loan shark, or drug dealer -  not someone who needs to pay a valid debt that's been around long enough to show up on a credit report.

While honest people are indeed perhaps not as likely to incur debt problems of lengthy standing, it does happen. Debt problems of sufficiently lengthy standing to show up on a credit report are rarely a very good indicator of dishonesty without something on a background check - a theft, property crime, fraud - to corroborate them. Honest people know, whatever the situation they find themselves in - including debt -  that it's wrong to steal. 

Anyone who steals, after all, feels that they 'need' the money or stolen goods for something: otherwise, why take the risk of stealing it? That's why we have the question on our application about the hypothetical 'poor, starving person who takes a loaf of bread from a store without paying for it . . .': anyone who can rationalize stealing, or see it as justified in some circumstances, is probably a risk regardless of his or her credit score. (As to the question of an applicant's credit history on the application, we're more interested in an honest answer, and a good response to the question of 'why should we disregard . . .?', than we are about the mere fact that an applicant may have past credit or debt problems.)

Furthermore, the credit reporting system itself is punitive and unfair: paying off a delinquent debt doesn't remove it from one's credit history. Any delinquency (which will often including compounded interest and 'fees' of no more than technical legal validity, and questionable merit regardless; in addition to the principal amount of the debt), once it has occurred and even after it has been paid by a scrupulously honest debtor, still leaves a stain that is rarely distinguished from a walk-off/write-off with any care or fairness by a person or company reading the credit report, leaving honest people who do take a hit on their credit rating little incentive and no reward (other than virtue as its own reward) or even redemption for 'doing the right thing' and settling up. 

Since the 2007-10 mortgage crisis, there are indeed a lot of honest people out there who have just that problem, and many more that should have that same problem (and would, if the rules hadn't been changed one year into the mess to provide 'relief' to people facing foreclosure, by an emergency session of Congress that included presidential candidate John McCain, who lost my vote for President by voting in favor of it). The system doesn't apply equally to everyone.

So, we're not paying for credit reports, or mindlessly using the information on them to disqualify otherwise good applicants. Without some corroborating evidence (which we can, and do, obtain and consider), they're generally not worth the paper they're written on. They're more likely to 'disqualify' a viable applicant with no history of or propensity toward dishonesty than they are to screen out someone who actually does have a significant problem.

Originally appeared on Quora

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