12 Dos and Don’ts of Pre Employment Screening

Pre Employment Screening TipsPre employment screening is relied upon by nearly 80% of corporate America – and for good reason. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, every dollar invested in employment screening can result in a $5 – $16 return on investment, stemming from higher productivity, lower absenteeism, a decrease in turnover, and less risk of employer liability.

In fact, a recent study we conducted found that a mid-sized company with 10,000 employees and 500 annual hires can reduce their liability from $3,110 to just $300 per hire—for a mere $50 investment in background screening.

That’s a hard ROI to beat!

However, before you embark on a background screening program for your company, consider these dos and don’ts.

DO: Obtain Applicant Consent

The first and most important step in pre employment screening? Obtain applicant consent. This isn’t just our advice—it’s also the law, as outlined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You must make applicants aware that they will be subject to a pre employment background check, and the candidate/employee must sign a written consent form before you conduct the screen.

DON’T: Create a Blanket “No Criminal Record” Policy

Fair employment laws require that you only make hiring decisions based on job-related capabilities. Therefore, avoid bright line “no criminal record” policies. Often, old and non-serious convictions have little or no bearing on a person’s ability to fulfill the job obligations.

DO: Create a Strong Link Between the Background Check and the Job

Related to the above “don’t,” do establish a clear link between the items you’re screening for in the background check and the job duties. Understand what you “need to know” and what could potentially violate an individual’s privacy rights or cause unfair discrimination.

DON’T: Stop with a National Criminal Database Searches

With today’s transient workforce, it’s wise to conduct criminal searches on a national level and now it’s easier than ever before through instant databases. But don’t stop there. Always back up your national search with a local-level search to verify the results at the local court level. Otherwise, you’ll risk making decisions on old or potentially inaccurate information.

DO: Establish and Publish Your Background Screening Policy

Make it clear—in writing—your background screening policy. Detail what types of screens your regularly conduct, how, and the information you’re screening for. Make sure you include federal, state, and local laws in your guidelines. Additionally, make it clear how you’ll apply your background screening results.

DO: Apply Your Criteria Consistently

Another way to help keep your company within legal grounds and promote fair hiring? Apply your policy consistency. For example, for individuals applying to the same position, make sure you use the same type of background check on everyone and that you use the same criteria for judging the results.

DON’T: Forget to Screen Your Subcontractors & Temporary Workers

Everyone who works for your company—everyone! – should undergo a background screen. Remember—you’re most likely to be held liable for anyone who is on your books whether they are an employee or a subcontractor. Especially when they do something wrong.

DO: Take a Well-Rounded View

The key to gaining a complete picture of a candidate? Take a holistic view by conducting a background check that involves a number of different looks, rather than just one. For example, if you use criminal background checks, also consider adding employment verifications, reference checks, and possibly even credit checks, drug screening or other job-related checks.

DON’T: Use Social Media without Understanding the Risks

Social media—it’s tempting—and mostly legal when investigating a candidate or employee. However, what you find and how you apply the information you uncover is what can get you in trouble. For a detailed discussion on social media and background screening, see social media for employment screening.

DO: Notify Your Applicant of Any Adverse Action

Before you take any action on the results of a background screen in hiring, promoting, or suspending an employee, make sure you’re aware of the Adverse Action requirements mandated by the FCRA—the laws are very specific about how and when you must notify an applicant of an adverse decision you’ve made concerning the results of their background check.

DON’T: Let Your Applicant’s Information Go Offshore

Unfortunately, some background companies will do anything to cut costs—including outsourcing background screening to offshore companies. Once a person’s sensitive personal information leaves U.S. borders, however, you have no control of how the information is used. And that can bring you a world of trouble.

DO: Comply with FCRA, ADA, and All Other Applicable Laws

Bottom line—look at the laws. FCRA, ADA, and other employment laws are complex and specific, and to protect your company, you need to ensure you’re operating under full compliance. Consult your employment attorney.

DON’T: Go it Alone

A reputable, qualified background screening firm can help guide you through the logistics and complexities of background screening. Moreover, the cost of working with employment screening services is less or equal to the cost you’d pay to have your staff attempt to design and implement a screening program on your behalf. Avoid the headaches and get the most value from your pre employment screening program by hiring a qualified provider.

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About MichaelGaul

Michael is a results-oriented marketing executive with over two decades of experience in employment screening, physical security, and business process management. Michael has deep experience in human capital risk management and a passion for educating business leaders and HR professionals on strategies that tangibly protect their interests. Michael serves on the Board of the Secure Cash and Transport Association (SCTA) and is a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS).
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