Hiring PreCheck:  Did You Cover the Background ?

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background check

Background screening is an important but sometimes time-consuming aspect of recruiting.  Do you have a pre-employment background check process in place?

Workplace safety and security is essential. Tragic headlines speak too often of another case of workplace violence, or the discovery of a significant employee fraud.  Your industry may heighten the need for background scrutiny if your business is involved with compliance, sensitive data, or dangerous materials.

Beyond safety, security, and common sense, failure to perform an adequate background check leaves you open to a claim of negligence if your employee participates in harmful or illegal activities. Recruiters who provide a qualified candidate without the prerequisite background screening could be entangled in legal action if there is trouble down the line.

Beyond security, your brand reputation is at risk if you hire an individual who must eventually admit they faked their credentials or accomplishments.  Background screening provides a minimum level of trust and security in the people you choose to hire.

Tips for performing employment background screening

Despite the hassle of a pre-employment background check, it is important.  Each and every hire should be screened to a consistent set of criteria that reflects current law and privacy regulations.  While there are all sorts of good reasons to get a background check, there are no good reasons not to.  A thorough background check can provide you with the information you need to make the right choices for your business. With that in mind, consider these tips:

  • Know the law: Before creating a standard screening protocol, know the laws of your state.  For your business or industry—do you have particular needs? Regulated industries have special concerns. It is important to understand if you are subject to “Ban the Box” legislation that prohibits you from inquiring about criminal history until after an interview or offer.  What do you want to know, and what do you need to know, to make fair and equitable hiring decisions in the best interests of your company and your applicants?
  • Standardize: Protect yourself against claims of discrimination or unfair hiring practices by standardizing your background screening process. Inform all applicants at the same time in the recruiting process that a background check is conducted. If you use a pre-employment screening firm, inquire whether candidates can work directly with the company to speed uptake of accurate information and allow the candidate some control of the process.  Do not bury authorization for a background check in your employment application. Consider using a separate document to describe the process and to request a signature.
  • What is in a background check? Depending on your state and locality, there are a number of areas you should consider when developing your screening standards.  Consider background information from sources like:
  • Drug tests: Drug testing is commonplace in pre-employment screening.
  • Criminal records: The legality of checking criminal records could vary in your state. Conduct criminal background checks legally and thoroughly.
  • Credit and bankruptcy records: Be sure to gain authorization from applicants before             pulling a credit history.
  • Fact checking: A good screening firm can quickly determine whether educational and other credentials claimed on an application are legitimate. Be sure to follow through on basic background facts.
  • Social media: Social media is a rich source of information on a person you might want to hire. For many reasons, creating an online content review process is a good idea.

Depending on whether you perform background checks yourself, or use a vendor, a good background check could take time. Consider the wait time a normal aspect of your recruiting process.

Background screening is only one part of the recruiting and engagement process. Screening at hire is not a set and forget function.  An engaged workforce is a revealing community, sometimes capable of identifying unstable persons, or surfacing criminal activities.

We spoke earlier about the necessity of engagement.  Maintain active and diverse engagement programs, including surveys, team gatherings, and other tactics to help you understand when workers are under stress, or exhibiting behaviors of concern to others.

Whether you are a recruiter or company HR, consider integrating an employment screening service, or vendor in your ATS. Do not assume that your ATS automatically runs a background screen. And before you hire an employment screening company, be sure to do a background check on that company.

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