January 10th, 2024 | Heather Pelton, Head of Operations, Investigations

Digging Deeper When Hiring Executive Talent

Executive Investigations are an important tool in protecting your business and providing a full picture of a candidate. During an Executive Investigation, investigative analysts will verify information provided by the candidate while also searching for information the candidate may have withheld or reported incorrectly.

But what exactly are Executive Investigations, and how do they differ from standard background checks? Read our Q&A below to learn how Executive Investigations can protect your business.

Q: What are Executive Investigations?

Executive Investigations build on Sterling’s existing verifications processes and other background screening tools. These investigations include analysis coordinated and conducted by investigators in order to identify and highlight discrepancies or inconsistencies with regard to employment and educational and licensing credentials. Investigators also dig deeper into specific findings to uncover additional, sometimes undisclosed, information.

As part of Executive Investigations, investigators provide a full narrative report with detailed information, rather than confirming or refuting specific disclosed information. For example, a candidate’s resume reflected that he was employed with three companies. The investigation confirmed those three employers, but also uncovered that he founded a business not listed on his resume. This would have been revealed through press and media searches, or business record filing searches. All information would be placed in the narrative report for the client. 

Q: What is the difference between a standard background check and an Executive Investigation?

The main difference can be boiled down to data validation/verification versus a full, “deep-dive” investigation. Traditional background checks are based on information provided by the candidate. Executive Investigations use a resume as a starting point to identify which employers, education credentials, board memberships, and licensure should be verified.

Executive Investigations include not only the candidate-supplied resume and information, but may also include information identified on other public professional profiles maintained by the candidate, as well as information uncovered while conducting research in relevant jurisdictions and across the Internet. The Executive Investigation provides verifications and information related to: 

  • Property records
  • Regulatory searches
  • Court and various other public records
  • Driver record and credit information
  • Global sanctions research
  • Full press and media research 

Q: What are some examples of offenses that can possibly be reported in an Executive Investigation that wouldn’t be reportable in a standard background check?

Some examples may include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Traffic cases
  • Property records
  • Discovery/identification of undisclosed jurisdictions
  • Discrepancy and gap analysis relating to employment and education
  • Discovery of undisclosed licenses 

The investigative nature of an Executive Investigation often surfaces information that the applicant did not volunteer. For example, this could include the discovery of a revoked license, a conflicting business interest, or lack of information on a resume. Research through various databases, as well as press and media sources, routinely reveal jurisdictions that may not have been uncovered by a criminal search.

Likewise, a Sterling client found that, although their candidate resided in California, our Executive Investigation revealed that they also had an undisclosed license in Georgia…even though nothing else indicated that he had ever lived in that state. Once Sterling found and confirmed the license, we then added Georgia to our research and uncovered additional information, which we then disclosed to our client.

Q: How do you start researching an Executive Investigation?

With Executive Investigations, a multi-layered approach involving primary, secondary and tertiary sources is used in research methods to surface details that may have not been volunteered, and may even prompt additional searches above and beyond where a criminal search might turn up results.

For instance, investigators might uncover an owned property which doesn’t populate as a current jurisdiction for the candidate. Research efforts would then include the location of the newly-identified property. Multiple sources of information, including primary records, databases, and news outlets, are researched, utilized, and confirmed to ensure that reported information is complete, accurate, and up-to-date.

Q: What types of positions are a good fit for Executive Investigations products?

These investigations are most relevant for any positions within a company where an individual is primarily responsible for generating company results, has significant influence, or publicly represents the organization.

Commonly these duties can include responsibility for executive-level decisions, revenue, product delivery, strategy, talent recruitment, or client relations. Most often, these positions have the autonomy, access, and opportunity to commit fraud or theft with little or no detection. Executive Investigations is an essential element of the background check process that can help mitigate a company’s risk beyond a traditional background check in order to provide a full picture of a candidate. If you’d like to learn more you can contact Sterling Diligence here.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.