Pre-employment & employee screening: Facts you need to know
Tuesday, September 6, 2016 2:19:58 PM

Every employer wants to hire employees having the right skills set, experiences, competency, qualification and most importantly, the ability to do justice to the jobs. Nowadays, employers are increasingly focusing on pre-employment background checks in order to safeguard financial and legal risks of their companies. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce statistics, 30% of all business failures are due to poor hiring practices.

What would be the potential threats to your company if it does not perform pre-employment background checks? There may be many, but the greatest is that a bad hiring decision may impact your company for a long time. It may negatively affect your team morale and productivity as well as impact your client base and other stakeholders who interact with you on a daily basis.

The costs of time and resources required to replace an employee with a new hire – the costs of turnover – far more outweighs the cost of doing a thorough background check at the beginning itself.  Also, you don’t want to invest other employees’ time in training someone who has no future in your company. Crimescreen.com reported that “The Wall Street Journal said that 34% of all application forms contain outright lies about experience, education and the ability to perform essential functions of the job.”

Sometimes people don’t reveal the truth and it is not surprising. It is better to be safe than sorry. In these days of litigation and lawsuits for negligent hiring, it is vital for employers to perform pre-employment background as it helps employers detect criminal activity or history that otherwise could not have surfaced. You don’t want to be caught in a lawsuit by an unethical employee who you failed to judge properly or was a misfit.

At the same time, employers should also appreciate that applicants today have extensive legal protections and this entire business draws a lot of litigation and legislation. So, placing a blanket ban against eligibility of candidates who faced convictions in the past may draw flak and have legal implications.

For example, most companies see felons as unfit for candidature and would prefer them over others. Today, not considering a person who has committed a crime job-worthy because he will be a potential reoffender is a matter of discussion. Gone are the days when a potential offender failed to find meaningful employment.

Let’s look at a few best methods of pre-employment background screening:  

Your company should develop a formal policy for pre-employment screening if it does not have anyone. The verification can be done internally or can be outsourced, depending on the requirements of your organization.

  1. Do a thorough check: Pre-employment screening should include a whole gamut of information, including identity, address, education, verification of prior employment, criminal history, driving record, social media, and social security number if applicable. You should also look at the applicant's credit report and professional licenses. The checks depend on the job role, industry, and country regulations.
  2. “Ban The Box”; do not discriminate: The box refers to a question on the application that reads, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and the “ban the box” movement seeks to eliminate questions on the past criminal history. Do not immediately dismiss candidates who has committed offences for candidature. Delay such enquiries until later in the hiring process.

 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines that forbid employers to implement blanket rules that eliminate job applicants with criminal records from consideration. The idea is to be fair and give equal opportunity to everyone. Labelling applicants upfront as criminals may knock out ex-offenders fulfilling other credentials even before giving them a chance.

  1. Use the services of a professional firm: Whether you run a small business, mid-sized firm, or a global conglomerate, using the services of a professional background check agency will yield quicker, more accurate, and more relevant information on applicants and help you intelligently manage employment decisions. Employing their services will enable you to be more efficient in hiring; they may also advise you against seeing data that could violate a state or federal law. For example, HireRight, one of the world’s largest providers of employment screening services, has over 40,000 organizations that employ their services. On its corporate website, they claim to have 95% satisfaction rate with screened candidates.
  2. Check for visible patterns: Seek patterns of behavior, if discernable, in a potential candidate to weed out debatable profiles. There may be positive or negative patterns in a candidate’s profile but a single good or bad act should not be the deciding factor for acceptance or rejection. Consider consistent patterns to make hiring decisions.
  3. Follow the laws: As an employer, be careful in conducting background checks as there are many ways and incorrect ways to do the same. Chris Dyer, founder of PeopleG2, a leader in background checks and employment screening, says, “The rules concerning background checks vary based on federal, state, local and job-specific laws. Check with your company’s legal counsel if you’re unsure of how to proceed.”

 

Be fair and consistent: Ensure consistency in processing the profiles of all candidates. The same background investigation should apply to two or more people applying for the same job role or title. You don’t want to be slapped charges of discrimination. Also, be fair and look for positive information in a background check instead of focusing on that one “apparently” negative or act. In the age of googling, it is easy to find information that may be disturbing or may throw you off about a candidate; who may otherwise be bright and promising