Can Your Background Screening Program Pass These 6 Tests?

background screeningWe know that employers use background screening to mitigate risks, make better employment decisions, and enhance the safety and productivity of their workforces.  But we also know that employment screening isn’t a panacea for bringing in only the most “perfect” people.  In fact, there’s a fair amount of controversy over the whole process.  Much of it stemming from a lack of real understanding of how employment screening is performed, but there are also fair questions and challenges pointed at employers and suppliers who neglect to follow best practices and established legal guidelines.

Because of the controversy and need for compliance, companies that rely on background screening will face a number of tests.  Here are 6 big ones:

1. The Fair Hiring Test – Do the right thing.

Is it really fair to exclude any and all applicants with any sort of criminal history? Is it fair to consider the credit history of people whose work has no relationship to company financials? Is it fair to ask someone to divulge their social media passwords? These questions, and many others, will come to mind when applicants, employees, regulators, and other stakeholders review your employment practices.  In some cases the answers to those questions will be yes. In many others, there are shades of grey. There are laws designed to promote fair hiring practices and commissions dedicated to enforcing those laws and then there are practical considerations every employer should make when designing a background screening program.  In all cases, doing the right thing should come first.

2. The Onboarding Test – Don’t be so annoying!

The last thing you need is another process to slow down your time to hire. Not only is a poorly run background screening process costly to the organization it’s downright annoying to new employees, and can set their first impressions off in a negative direction. Since background checks typically occur at the end of the hiring process, serving as a final check of your top candidate(s), you need a streamlined, buttoned-up approach. Does yours meet this test?  If not, look for an integrated talent acquisition and employment screening platform.

3. The Accurate and Insightful Test – You get what you pay for.

Truth is, anyone can sell you a background check.  There are all kinds of database providers selling easily-accessible information at rock bottom prices.  Trouble is, the information you get is often outdated, inaccurate, unverified, and may do no more to protect you than if you’d hired someone off the street with absolutely no verification.   To learn more about the dangers of database background checks, visit

4. The Compliance Test – Follow the laws.

In the wake of the recent recession, federal, state, and local regulators are having a big time with background screening regulation. Limiting or outright disallowing the use of credit histories, restricting the use of criminal records, increasing enforcement of anti-discrimination hiring laws, and other regulatory activity means employers need to pay close attention to their screening policies and processes to ensure compliance.

5. The Risk Management Test – Protect your people, brand, and profits.

Your background screening program will be looked at as a risk management tool by leaders of your organization. Is your program set to the right “level” for your company’s risk tolerance? Does it serve to mitigate the risks your organization is most concerned about?  You should be prepared to answer these questions.

6. The ROI Test – Make it worthwhile.

Background screening probably won’t be your most expensive employment-related expense but that doesn’t make it insignificant.  Your organization should strive to measure the ROI of your investment by looking at factors such as turnover, productivity, loss avoidance, and more.  Download our whitepaper for a free background screening ROI formula.

In case these tests make you want to ditch the background checks altogether…

Think again. Employers have a duty of care to hire and retain people who are fit and qualified for their respective roles. There are simply too many cases where a company’s failure to adequately screen its employees has resulted in expensive claims of negligence and damage to people, brands, and profits that could have been minimized or avoided with the right screening approach.

Since you need to do it, you might as well do it right.  Step one: Hire a professional background screening company to be your partner in the process.  The right provider will protect the rights of your applicants and employees while giving you the valuable insight you need to make better employment decisions.

Learn more about surviving the tests of employment screening. Download our Background Screening Survival Kit today.

employment screening kit

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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