Hiring the right people can be a tough task. Not only do they need to have the right skills, but they need to fit into your corporate culture. Some might have access to sensitive information, or risk your company’s reputation when dealing with the public. It’s hard to be right every time, but Pre-Employment screening can go a long way to helping you protect your business.
Whether you are concerned about criminal history or illicit drug use, pre-employment screening can dramatically reduce your risk.
Note: This page is an overview of pre-employment screening. Learn about our pre-employment screening service by visiting our background screening page.
Pre-Employment screening is known by many names: Background Checks, Background Screening, Criminal Background Checks… just to name a few.
Pre-Employment Drug Testing, Education Verification, Employment Verification and Reference Checks also fall into this category. They all refer to the process of screening a job candidate before they become part of your team.
Read on to learn what a background check consists of, and how it can help you maintain a safe and compliant workforce.
Your company is only as good or bad as your people. In-depth pre-employment screening makes sure you only hire the right candidates.
The costs of making a bad hire are staggering. At best, you waste precious time and resources on-boarding and training someone who is not a good fit, only to have to turn right around and do it again. In the worst case scenario, you could end up with a damaged reputation or even in court.
When you hire someone, you have a responsibility, not only to your customers, but to your other employees as well. Hiring someone with a history of violence, for example, puts everyone they come in contact with at risk. You could be liable if someone is victimized by one of your employees.
Candidates often look perfect on paper, but it’s your job to make sure they are not stretching the truth. Pre-employment screening can verify credentials, technical certificates, licenses, employment history, education, military service and other information. Several industries, like healthcare and transportation, have very specific licensing requirements.
This trace is based on the Social Security Number provided by the applicant. It allows us to find all of the names, aliases, the date of birth and all of the addresses associated with that SSN. It does not verify or confirm if a number is valid, but it shows us what jurisdictions to check for criminal records. It is an essential piece in solving the puzzle.
Susie Q shows up at your company applying for a bookkeeping job. She says she grew up in the area, never moved away and has a clean record. Her resume looks great and the two references she presented offer glowing reviews. When your background screening partner runs her Social Security Number they find not only did she spend some time living in a neighboring state, but before she was married she was known as Susie B. This Susie B was convicted of check fraud and identity theft! Without the SSN Trace you would have no idea what a risk sweet Susie Q posed to your company’s wellbeing.
An investigation of criminal records can protect you from Negligent Hiring lawsuits. These reports are a compilation of records from several sources depending on your company’s needs. Searches can be done on the county, state, federal, national and even international levels. Many companies get this information by using only online databases. This tactic is known as screen-scraping and can lead to old or dismissed charges being reported to an employer. The more effective way to get the complete picture of your applicant is to have people on the ground, combing through actual records to make sure they have the right person and the final outcome in any criminal case.
Bobby the Builder has moved around a lot, his background check takes a little elbow grease. Some states he’s lived in only allow you to check the state repository for criminal records. Others have terribly out-of-date systems that keep the accurate records locked up at the county level. If you have any hope of finding his aggravated assault charges against the guy running the local food truck, you might not want to depend on just one type of search.
Public records are documents or information that is not considered confidential. A marriage license, for example would be considered a searchable public record, as would birth and death certificates. When doing a background check for employment purposes you could be interested in records such as credit records, civil judgements, driving records and several others.
Here’s a list of the most commonly searched public records:
Verification services help you make sure your applicants can live up to the claims they make on their resumes. Do they really have that advanced degree, professional license or military record? You would be surprised by how many people fake these things… and how many people believe them.
Marilee Jones had a fabulous career at MIT, rising through the ranks like a rock star. In 1979 she was hired as an entry-level admissions officer and finished her career as the Dean of Admissions. At the time she claimed to have several degrees, including a Ph.D. – but it was all a lie. Incredibly enough, the ruse was not discovered even as Ms. Jones received promotion after promotion. She was even promoted to Dean of Admissions for the esteemed institution and served in that role for 9 years before it was discovered that she had lied about all three of her advanced degrees.
Global background checks can increase the efficiency of your international hiring without sacrificing quality or security. The most advanced global background checks will extend to multiple countries and territories with the same high level of information and meticulous attention to detail provided in domestic searches.
The background screening services you select are usually dependent on and determined by the role you are looking to fill. For example, you typically wouldn’t need a Healthcare Sanctions Report (HSR) if you are not hiring for a healthcare-related position. Similarly, a motor vehicle records check may not be needed for someone who will not be driving a corporate vehicle.
Screening time depends on the services you select and how easily the information can be accessed when determining how long a background check takes. The majority of services can be completed instantaneously or within 24-72 hours.
A “background check” is a very generic term, and price will vary significantly depending on the types of hires you are making. A standalone database search can cost under $10 while a top of the line, executive background check could run $100+, and everything in between. Your cost will depend on the individual services that are appropriate for your organization to ensure due diligence and mitigate risk. Regardless of your industry and your budget, the cost of a negligent hiring lawsuit far outweighs the cost of a proper pre-employment background screening.
Johnny D applies for a job in the Wingding Factory’s warehouse managing the stock. The company is going through some tough times, since people don’t really need as many Wingdings as they used to. To cut cost, the company decides to cut back on its once aggressive background screening program. They save a few dollars on the front end, but they never find out about Johnny’s violent attack on a co-worker years ago. During a disagreement on the warehouse floor, Johnny lashes out at his manager, landing him in the hospital. Between the workers comp costs and the lawsuit they face once the manager’s lawyer finds out Johnny has a history of violence might be enough to put the factory out of business for good.
A drug test helps identify any illegal substances a candidate may have used or been exposed to. Drug tests may be mandatory in certain industries, and others may be required by company policy. Organizations that staunchly support a drug-free environment may want to include drug testing in its pre-employment screening process.
We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to partner with a company with expertise in this arena. Not only are there very strict laws governing how you can access certain information and how you may use it for hiring, but the “do-it-yourself” websites offer only the most superficial look into criminal records. Here are some of the problems with trying to screen applicants on your own:
These cheap online companies do nothing but scan public records. As we have mentioned, many of these records are woefully out of date and incomplete. The chance of missing important information is extremely high. You might also receive records for someone else with the same name, or miss records because your applicant has an alias.
Using Google and social media sites to vet your candidates can land you in some extremely difficult situations. If you decide to eliminate a candidate after looking at their Facebook page, for example, they could claim you never asked them in for an interview because of their race or a disability. It is very hard to prove you DIDN’T use that information when making the decision, and you could end up with a costly discrimination lawsuit.
Not all industries or companies necessarily need the same information on a potential hire, which means the application, hiring and screening processes can vary drastically from one organization to another.
Background screening companies can vary as widely as potential job candidates. It is important to look for companies that have proven their dedication to the industry’s best practices. An accreditation with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) is essential. These companies are committed to the highest levels of accuracy, dependability, security and transparency.
Pre-employment background screening is essential for companies of all sizes. Sometimes the smaller firms actually have more to lose by making a bad hire. Hiring an unfit candidate can cost upwards of $25,000, money that’s tougher for smaller companies to part with. Investing in a quality screening process is wiser than risking the time, money and potential damages of a bad hire.
The question about using social media outlets as a part of your hiring process is a common yet difficult one. Taking a look at an applicant’s Facebook page or Instagram account might tell you a lot about the person you are thinking about bringing into your organization, but it could also put you in a difficult legal position. While social media checks are not typical steps in traditional pre-employment background checks, there are definitely pros and cons if you are considering taking a look for yourself.
Questions to ask before talking to a partner:
We understand that this is a lot of information to digest. Pre-employment screening is nuanced, highly regulated, and can’t usually be tackled with a one-size-fits-all approach. If you would like to continue the conversation with one of our Screening Experts, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help!