Mission Admission: Background Check Anxiety

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

ROMA: Were you the guy who broke in?
GEORGE: …no.
ROMA: Then don’t sweat it, George, you know why?
ROMA: You have nothing to hide.
GEORGE: When I talk to the police, I get nervous.
ROMA: Yeah. You know who doesn’t?
GEORGE: No, who?
ROMA: Thieves.

-David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (Screenplay 1992)

For many applicants, the worst of the admissions process is now over. But at this stage, a new anxiety looms: the background check. Should the majority of candidates be concerned about background checks? The simple answer is “No.” The admissions committees know that almost all candidates have represented themselves in an honest manner. Thus, background checks are not designed to bring accusations against the innocent, but are instead designed to catch those who have willfully deceived.

What does that mean, exactly? If you have indicated that you were at a job that never existed or have changed your title from analyst to vice president, you just might have a problem on your hands and a reason to sweat. If you accidentally noted that you left your job in January instead of February, no one is going to rescind your offer. You are certainly innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of guilt is not on the applicant who may have committed a minor error, but on the one who attempted to misrepresent or defraud.

Rest easy…

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