Halloween hijinks at haunted houses and corn mazes are part of the thrills and chills we love to experience each October. While a good scare is part of an authentic Halloween holiday, it’s more frightening to think the pretend-chainsaw-wielding psychopaths at these iconic haunted houses haven’t been background checked.
I remember attending a haunted house in Springfield, Mass. with my father when I was about 10 years old. When we reached the top floor, a bedroom was staged like Glen’s in “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” I watched in horror as the actor was sucked into his bed and a bloody Freddy Krueger erupted from it. Later, when we were sitting in the car ready to go home, my father showed me his own bloodied arm. I had scratched it raw in frightened fury.
While I was scared out of my wits, my safety, as far as I knew, was never in question. My father was there to protect me from machete maniacs and killer clowns. However, many people, including children and teens, love to experience the thrill of the chase without (or at least at a safe distance from) their parents. But going unaccompanied to haunted houses may be riskier than peering into a sewer drain.
The small business seasonal Halloween hiring industry doesn’t appear to follow modern talent acquisition. Translation, employers rarely screen their workers. The one exception may be enterprise-caliber Halloween retail stores who seem to have a more standardized hiring and onboarding process.
A 2017 television news story from Cleveland didn’t find a single haunted house attraction vetted its seasonal employees.
“Two forms of ID is what we take, we don’t do background checks. I don’t know if there’s any haunted houses that do a full background check, it’s seasonal work. They are here for six weekends,” says one employee.
Another story from Indianapolis reports haunted houses are responsible for their own background check requirements. Two out of the four haunted houses interviewed for the story conduct proper background checks on employees. And some actors at “interactive” haunted houses undergo training to learn safe touching of guests, on arms, backs, and lower legs.
There is no state or federal law requiring a criminal background check for Halloween seasonal workers. However, screening all employees – seasonal, contract, or permanent – is a necessary step to keeping your workplace and your customer safe.
One the most popular haunted houses in Kansas City, Missouri takes its employee and guest safety seriously. The Beast has clear hiring instructions, including this statement: “Background checks will be done on all applicants, and in such case there is a record of a felony conviction, the applicant will be denied employment at any of the Full Moon attractions.”
This is a terrific example of a small business operating like an enterprise-level establishment already.
As a customer, you have a right to inquire about the hiring and screening practices at your local haunted house. Employers, even seasonal small businesses, should know comprehensive background checks are the single-most effective tool at keeping your workplace safe.
EBI understands the hiring constraints employers in the hospitality industry face. Approximately 10% of all job candidates have some type of criminal past. The percentage is even higher for part-time, seasonal and minimum wage staff members.
We also empathize with small businesses who wish to implement safe hiring policies and procedures but feel left in the dark by most Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs). Enterprise-specific CRAs are often too expensive for small business owners, lack the personalized screening service and attention you want and need, and are just plain scary to talk to!
EBI understands the small businesses of today are the enterprise businesses of tomorrow. That’s why we offer clients of all sizes – from just a few workers to thousands of employees – the same screening service and client care experience. We partner with small businesses to build out customizable packages suited to your needs. In fact, EBI is currently developing a platform specifically for smaller businesses who need on-demand background checks. This platform will be especially helpful for businesses who rely on seasonal employees who need to be onboarded quickly such as summer camps and holiday-themed businesses.
Let us help you have the spookiest Halloween yet, in the safest way possible. Request a screening consultation with EBI. Then grab your Jason mask and get back to having a boo-tiful Halloween!
ICYMI: Have you heard of the curse of the lying employee? EBI loves a good Halloween scare, but not when it comes to hiring. Check out this spooky hiring horror story.
Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.