Most employers do a background check before hiring a new employee. The information is considered critical to making a sound hiring decision and to help manage risk exposure for the company. What few people talk about is whether a potential employee should run a background check on their supervisor before accepting a job. 

Depending on the type of job, the boss potentially can make you miserable no matter how well you strive to do your job. Working for a boss with a poor reputation can have a lasting impact on your career because if you are fired, that shows up on your work history when you seek new employment. If you quit the job, it can make it appear that you are not a committed employee. 

Employers have to seek your permission to do a background check, but as a private citizen, you do not need permission to do a background check on your supervisor. An online site like Check People can provide you with a thorough background check with just the name, city, and state of your boss. If the name is common,  you can narrow the search down by knowing his approximate age or by adding the company as part of the search. 

Listen to your gut after the interview. If something seems off about the job offer, then you should do yourself the favor of a background check and more research before you accept the offer. Maybe you had a negative feeling about the boss, the job description seems very vague, or the hiring process is being rushed. All of those are legitimate concerns that warrant doing a comprehensive background check on the person or company before accepting a job. 

Red Flags In A Potential Employer Or Supervisor

If your boss is the owner of the company, you can do your research based on the company name or the owner’s name. Red flags for potential employees include:

  • Numerous complaints about the company found online. Disgruntled employees are more likely to leave reviews than those who love their job, so compare the number of negative reviews to similar companies. Are there more complaints about the company where you have been offered a job? If so, that is cause for concern. 
  • Is there ongoing litigation involving the company? If the company is being sued, especially by prior employees or contractors, you want as much information as possible about what happened. 
  • How large is the company? If it is a large company, and you will not be reporting directly to the person that hired you, then you might consider the offer. Hopefully, you will have a chance to meet your direct supervisor before formally accepting the job. 
  • Does the company have an HR department? An HR department provides a place for you to work out any ongoing issues with a supervisor.  Without an HR department, you have very little protection as an employee if problems arise. 
  • Did you receive a formal offer letter? If not, be leery about the legitimacy of the job. Ask for a contract to review before accepting the job, and if the person hiring you balks, consider this a red flag. 
  • Is the boss, or the company, in financial trouble? If so, you have to decide if you are willing to risk boarding a sinking ship. 
  • Does your boss have a criminal history? If so, give careful consideration to what type of crimes and how long ago they happened. A DUI seven years ago is not as concerning as assault charges filed a year ago. 

  • Research the employee turnover rate at the company. If it is excessively high, then see if you can understand the reason why. If you are interested in the job and this is the only concern, then straightforwardly ask the question. The company may have recently restructured, or come under new management. 
  • Has the company, or person, been fined or penalized by a government agency such as the EPA or OSHA? These are strong indicators that the company may be on thin ice, or that they do not take health and safety concerns seriously.