If you rely on background checks to screen candidates and employees, you already have some sort of background screening process in place. Whether formal or informal, structured or loosely-defined, there are certain steps you take to ensure each individual is screened.
So, have you thought about how your process would stand up to scrutiny should someone question your methodology, process, decision criteria, or some other aspect of your program? Because we can pretty much guarantee that if you run a background screening program there may come a day when someone (a candidate you chose not to hire, for example) or some entity (like the EEOC, for instance) will question a decision you’ve made, a requirement you’ve set, or some other aspect of your program.
Will you be able to demonstrate that your background screening process is fair and compliant? Or will it reek of unintended discrimination, missteps, or shortcuts?
4 Criteria to Assess Your Background Screening Process:
To find out if your employment screening process will stand up to scrutiny, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do You Have a Clear Business Necessity?
The EEOC has time and time again stressed the importance of having a clear business necessity when it comes to background checks. Regardless the type of check you’re performing, you must have a legitimate business reason to do so. In reality, just about every business can demonstrate business necessity to perform background screening; it’s just the EXTENT of the screening you perform that comes into question. Particularly in the case of criminal records and credit checks, you’ve got to make sure you have sound rationale.
2. Are Your Background Checks Job-Related?
Closely tied to above, your background checks need to be job-related. Your new CFO will be screened much differently than your janitor, and while these are extreme examples the point is a critical one. Take a look at each position in your company and the associated background check you require for that position and look at whether the information you’re gathering to make employment decisions is relevant to the risk and responsibilities of the position. Does it really make job-related sense to check the credit of someone who has absolutely no financial responsibility in your organization? Maybe. But probably not. It’s important to think critically here.
3. Are Your Data Sources Reliable?
Boy, is it tempting to buy that $9.95 background check. But chances are that background check is nothing more than a criminal database search of what is known to be fraught with inaccuracies, outdated information, and lacking identifiers that make it worth using. A recent NBC news feature told the story well and is a great reminder as to why you must work with a quality background screening company. We also wrote about the issue of quality data sources in this recent blog post: “Employment Background Checks Gone Wrong.”
4. Are Your Decision Criteria Applied Consistently?
What happens when a background check you’ve ordered comes back with a discrepancy? Do you immediate reject the candidate? Or do you follow FCRA protocols concerning adverse action notifications? (Hopefully it’s the later.) What’s more, do you have a consistent set of criteria by which you determine what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable for each position and apply those criteria consistently for each and every individual? Consistency is king!
Certainly, there are other factors you may need to consider but with these four basics in place, you’re well on your way to having a successful and compliant screening program.