“All the gear, and no idea”
We’ve all heard the phrase to describe getting the right kit in place without the means of knowing how to use it. Many businesses are guilty of doing the same with the tech they bring into the workplace. Lots of organizations have invested heavily into software but have neglected to train themselves and others on the best way of implementing it to reach their goals.
Perhaps you’re using tools now that aren’t fulfilling their potential. Many of us have been guilty of this - and it’s easily done: a lack of time, lack of resource, lack of foresight - we’ve all worked in busy departments just getting by the best we can in order to reach deadlines, get through task lists and fulfill OKRs.
But when it comes to HR tools, it pays to step back and work out if the current processes are the best processes. Are you having to ‘make do’ with certain outcomes? Do your team all use different methods and procedures? Are you just falling short of your departmental goals?
Take background screening and pre-hire checks. It’s crucial that everyone who uses the program has a uniform, defined approach. This way you build a robust background screening process that not only supports your team’s efforts, but builds a better, safer, happier workplace long term.
Hiring the right candidate is a critical aspect of building a successful organization. In today's highly competitive job market, employers must ensure that they are making informed decisions about potential employees. Background checks serve as a vital tool to confirm an applicant's skills, qualifications, and trustworthiness, ultimately contributing to a safer and more productive work environment.
However, obtaining accurate and reliable background check results can be challenging. Incomplete or incorrect information, lack of consistency in screening processes, and failure to comply with legal regulations are just a few of the many obstacles employers may face. To overcome these challenges and improve the overall effectiveness of background screening efforts, it is crucial to adopt a strategic approach.
This blog post will discuss 10 ways to get better background screening results, providing you with valuable insights and practical tips to enhance your organization's hiring process. From implementing a comprehensive background screening protocol to leveraging reputable service providers, these strategies will help ensure that you hire the best talent while minimizing the risk of bad hires.
#1: Implement a comprehensive background screening protocol
A well-defined and comprehensive background screening protocol serves as the foundation for effective employee background checks. By establishing a clear policy, you can ensure that your organization conducts background checks consistently and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Developing a clear protocol
Start by deciding on the essential components you want your background checks to include if you want to develop a strong background screening program. Depending on your business, the nature of the job, and particular regulatory requirements, these may change. Criminal background, work history, verification of schooling, professional certificates, credit checks, and reference checks are examples of typical components. Make sure the policy is recorded and readily available to all pertinent stakeholders. Clearly define the scope of the screening procedure for each of these components.
Ensuring legal compliance
Ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal laws is one of the most important parts of a background screening policy. Learn about fair credit, equal employment, and any other rules that may be relevant. Prior to beginning any background checks, it is essential to secure the needed authorization from candidates. Additionally, you must give them the relevant pre-adverse action and adverse action letters if any unfavorable information is discovered. To make sure your policy complies with all applicable legal standards, get advice from legal professionals or consult with a reliable background screening company.
Consistency in the application of the policy
Apply your policies uniformly to all candidates and job positions to improve the outcomes of background checks. Consistency can result in unfair recruiting practices and subsequent legal problems. The policy should be properly implemented by your HR staff and hiring managers. It should also be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect any changes in regulatory requirements or business priorities. You may increase the efficacy of your hiring process and lower the possibility of making bad hiring judgments by upholding uniformity in the administration of your background screening policy.
# 2: Use multiple sources for background checks
Relying on a single source of information for background checks can lead to inaccurate or incomplete results, increasing the risk of making poor hiring decisions. To obtain a more comprehensive and reliable understanding of a candidate's background, it is essential to utilize multiple information sources in the screening process.
The need for diverse information sources
When it comes to background checks, different information sources offer differing levels of accuracy and detail. For instance, certain databases may contain more thorough criminal histories, while others may provide more thorough employment history information. Utilizing numerous sources allows you to cross-verify data and reduces the possibility of errors or omissions that can affect your hiring choice.
The benefits of using multiple sources
Using multiple sources for background checks offers several benefits:
- Improved accuracy: Cross-referencing information from various sources helps to confirm the accuracy of the data you receive, reducing the likelihood of making decisions based on incorrect information.
- More comprehensive results: Some sources may have more extensive records or cover a wider range of information than others. By using multiple sources, you can ensure that you gather as much relevant data as possible.
- Reduced risk of bias: Relying on a single source can lead to biased results if that source has incomplete or inaccurate information. Utilizing multiple sources helps to mitigate this risk and ensures a more objective assessment of a candidate's background.
Examples of reliable information sources
To get better background screening results, consider using a combination of the following sources:
- National and state criminal record databases
- County court records
- Sex offender registries
- Federal criminal records
- Credit reporting agencies
- Educational institutions for degree verification
- Professional licensing boards for certification verification
- Previous employers for employment history and reference checks
- Social media platforms for additional insights into a candidate's character
By leveraging multiple sources in your background checks, you can obtain a more accurate and comprehensive picture of a candidate's background, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and a stronger workforce.
#3: Verify employment references thoroughly
Employment references play a crucial role in the background screening process by providing valuable insights into a candidate's work experience, skills, and character. To ensure that you make well-informed hiring decisions, it is essential to verify employment references thoroughly and consistently.
The importance of employment reference checks
Reference checks help employers:
- Confirm the accuracy of a candidate's work history: You can confirm the employment information provided by the candidate, including job titles, dates of employment, and responsibilities, by checking references.
- Assess the candidate's job performance: You can learn more about a candidate's skills, limitations, and overall job performance by chatting with prior managers.
- Evaluate cultural fit: Speaking with a candidate's references can give you insight into their work ethic, outlook, and interpersonal abilities, which can help you decide whether they'd be a suitable fit for your company.
Best practices for conducting reference checks
To ensure effective reference checks, consider implementing the following best practices:
- Develop a standard set of questions: Make a list of pertinent, open-ended questions that touch on work style, performance on the job, and opportunities for development. A consistent set of questions makes it easier to compare candidates and preserve neutrality.
- Speak with multiple references: To obtain a comprehensive understanding of each candidate's past and credentials, try to get in touch with at least two or three references.
- Include a mix of supervisors and peers: A candidate's work performance and interpersonal skills can be better understood by speaking with both managers and coworkers.
- Verify the reference's identity and relationship to the candidate: To prevent potential fraud, verify the references' credentials and working relationship with the candidate before doing the reference check.
- Document the reference check findings: Record the reference check discussions, including the queries posed, the answers given, and any other pertinent details. To ensure future legal compliance and future reference, this paperwork may be helpful.
Common pitfalls and how to avoid them
When conducting reference checks, be aware of the following potential pitfalls and take steps to avoid them:
- Solely relying on written references: Written references may be biased or general. Always have a follow-up phone or video conversation to get more frank and detailed information.
- Overlooking negative signals: Referees should be watched out for any hesitations or evasive responses, since these could point to any worries about the candidate.
- Violating privacy rights: Prior to calling references, make sure to have the candidate's permission and abide by all relevant privacy regulations.
By thoroughly and consistently verifying employment references, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate's background, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and improved background screening results.
#4: Perform in-depth criminal record checks
Criminal record checks are an essential component of the background screening process, as they help organizations mitigate potential risks associated with hiring candidates with a criminal history. By performing in-depth criminal record checks, you can ensure the safety and security of your workplace while making well-informed hiring decisions.
Understanding different types of criminal record checks
Various types of criminal record checks exist, and understanding the differences between them is crucial for obtaining accurate and comprehensive information. Key types of criminal record checks include:
- National criminal record databases: These databases compile criminal histories from a variety of sources, such as county and state court records. Nevertheless, they could not always offer comprehensive information, so it's important to supplement them with other kinds of checks.
- State criminal record repositories: Criminal histories for acts committed within the state's borders are kept in state repositories. State rules and regulations may have an impact on how these repositories can be accessed.
- County court records: For crimes committed within their authority, county courts maintain thorough criminal records. As a result, they frequently offer the most precise and current information.
- Federal criminal records: Criminal offenses that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as financial crimes, drug trafficking, and other major felonies, are included in federal criminal records. For instance, in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains these records, and they are often accessible via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. (NICS).
How to obtain accurate criminal record information
To perform in-depth criminal record checks, consider the following best practices:
- Use multiple sources: As was already indicated, depending on a single source for criminal background checks could produce unreliable or erroneous results. To ensure thorough coverage, use a combination of national, state, county, and federal criminal record sources.
- Conduct checks in all relevant jurisdictions: To get the most precise and comprehensive information, run criminal background checks across all jurisdictions where the candidate has resided or had employment.
- Verify candidate identity: Verify the candidate's personal details, such as complete name, date of birth, and Social Security number, to make sure you are screening the right person.
Assessing criminal records fairly and responsibly
When evaluating criminal records, it is essential to balance the need for workplace safety with the fair treatment of candidates. Keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Consider job-relatedness: Check to see if the criminal act has any bearing on the duties and job position in question. A position involving financial transactions, for instance, may be more relevant to a financial crime than one without any financial responsibility.
- Evaluate the nature and severity of the offense: Consider the severity of the offense, the risk it might present to your place of employment, and any mitigating circumstances, such as the candidate's age at the time of the incident.
- Review the time elapsed since the offense: Take into account the candidate's subsequent actions and attempts at rehabilitation as well as the amount of time that has gone since the infraction was committed.
By performing in-depth criminal record checks and evaluating the results fairly and responsibly, you can improve your background screening results while fostering a safe and secure work environment.
#5: Check credit history and financial background
Credit history and financial background checks can provide valuable insights into a candidate's financial responsibility and trustworthiness, particularly for positions involving financial management or access to sensitive financial information. By conducting thorough credit and financial background checks, you can minimize the risk of hiring candidates who might pose financial risks to your organization.
The relevance of financial background checks
Financial background checks can be relevant for various reasons, including:
- Assessing financial responsibility: A candidate's credit history can offer insights into their ability to manage financial obligations, budget effectively, and make timely payments.
- Evaluating potential risks: Poor credit history or a history of financial misconduct might indicate a higher risk of fraudulent activity, theft, or other financial improprieties.
- Ensuring regulatory compliance: For certain industries and job roles, credit checks may be required to comply with specific regulations or industry standards.
How to conduct credit history checks
To conduct credit history checks effectively, consider the following best practices:
- Obtain candidate consent: Ensure that you obtain the candidate's written consent before requesting their credit report.
- Work with a reputable credit reporting agency: Choose a credit reporting agency that is experienced in providing employment credit reports and compliant with FCRA regulations.
- Focus on job-related information: When reviewing credit reports, concentrate on aspects that are directly related to the job position and responsibilities. Avoid making decisions based on factors that are not relevant to the role.
Legal considerations and privacy concerns
When conducting credit history and financial background checks, it is crucial to be aware of legal considerations and privacy concerns:
- Comply with FCRA regulations: Follow all FCRA guidelines, including getting candidates' agreement, giving them advance notice of adverse action, and allowing them to contest any errors in their credit reports.
- Adhere to state and local laws: Specific laws restricting the use of credit reports in the employment process are in place in several states and localities. Make sure you are aware of and abiding by these laws.
- Respect candidate privacy: Use prudence when handling any financial background check information, and only allow key decision-makers in your firm access to the data.
By thoroughly checking credit history and financial background, you can make more informed hiring decisions and minimize potential financial risks within your organization.
#6: Validate education and professional certifications
Verifying a candidate's education and professional certifications is a vital component of the background screening process. Ensuring that candidates possess the necessary qualifications and credentials for a particular job position can help maintain the quality of your workforce and protect your organization from potential fraud.
Importance of education and certification verification
Validating education and professional certifications is essential for several reasons:
- Confirm qualifications: Verifying a candidate's academic credentials and professional certifications guarantees that they meet the minimal requirements for the position..
- Maintain company reputation: Employing someone with false credentials might harm your company's credibility and reputation in the market.
- Ensure compliance: Specific certificates or licenses are needed for certain jobs and industries in order to adhere to rules or norms.
Best practices for verifying education and certifications
To effectively validate education and professional certifications, consider the following best practices:
- Verify directly with the source: To confirm the candidate's credentials, get in touch with the college or organization that issues professional certifications directly. This assists in preventing any fraud or inaccuracy.
- Use a reputable third-party verification service: Choose a third-party verification firm that has a track record of conducting precise and trustworthy verifications of schooling and certifications if you decide to use one.
- Assess the relevance of the credentials: Examine a candidate's education and credentials in light of the job description and the necessary qualifications for the position.
Potential challenges and how to overcome them
During the verification process, you may encounter some challenges, such as:
- Incomplete or outdated information: Verification may be challenging due to insufficient or out-of-date records held by educational institutions or certification authorities. In such circumstances, ask the contender for more evidence to back up their statements.
- International credentials: Due to linguistic difficulties or variations in educational systems, verifying international education or credentials may take more time and resources. To assure accuracy, think about partnering with a third-party verification agency skilled in international credential verification.
- Privacy concerns: Before contacting educational institutions or certifying authorities, make sure to get the candidate's permission. You should also abide by any privacy laws and rules that may be in force.
By validating a candidate's education and professional certifications, you can ensure that your employees possess the necessary qualifications and skills for their job roles, ultimately leading to better background screening results and a stronger workforce.
#7: Screen social media profiles
In today's digital age, social media platforms have become an increasingly important source of information about potential employees. Screening social media profiles can provide valuable insights into a candidate's character, interests, and online behavior, helping you make more informed hiring decisions.
Benefits of social media screening
Social media screening offers several benefits, including:
- Assessing cultural fit: Your ability to ascertain whether a candidate will fit well with the culture of your company can be aided by looking at their social media presence, which can disclose their values, hobbies, and communication style.
- Identifying potential red flags: Examining a candidate's social media sites might help you spot unprofessional conduct, discriminating remarks, or other troubling content that may point to potential hazards of hiring the applicant.
- Evaluating communication and social skills: The way a candidate interacts on social media can reveal a lot about their interpersonal, relationship-building, and teamwork skills.
Best practices for social media screening
To ensure effective and legally compliant social media screening, consider the following best practices:
- Develop a clear policy: Establish a thorough social media screening strategy that describes the motive, parameters, and steps involved in examining applicants' online personas. Make sure the policy conforms with all relevant rules and regulations and is in line with the principles of your firm.
- Focus on job-relevant information: Focus on information and conduct when analyzing social media profiles that are pertinent to the employment position and duties. Don't base decisions on things like ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation that aren't important for the job or aren't legally protected.
- Be transparent with candidates: Before looking at candidates' online profiles, let them know about your social media screening procedures and get their permission. This promotes honesty and reliability throughout the employment process.
Legal considerations and privacy concerns
Social media screening can raise several legal and privacy concerns, including:
- Discrimination risks: You may discover details about a candidate's protected qualities, such as age, race, or religion, by looking through their social media pages. Make sure your hiring decisions are only based on information that is pertinent to the position, and keep social media screening and other employment-related activities clearly separate to reduce the potential of discrimination claims.
- Privacy rights: By restricting your social media screening to material that is publicly available and avoiding any attempts to access private content or accounts, you may respect candidates' privacy.
- Comply with applicable laws: Learn about the laws and guidelines governing social media screening, state privacy laws, and equal employment standards.
By carefully screening social media profiles and adhering to best practices and legal guidelines, you can gain valuable insights into candidates' backgrounds while maintaining a fair and respectful hiring process.
#8: Implement continuous monitoring and post-hire screening
Background screening should not be limited to the pre-employment phase. Implementing continuous monitoring and post-hire screening can help you stay informed about changes in your employees' backgrounds, allowing you to address potential risks proactively and maintain a safe and secure work environment.
Benefits of continuous monitoring and post-hire screening
Continuous monitoring and post-hire screening offer several advantages, including:
- Identifying potential risks: Background checks that are ongoing can assist you in finding fresh criminal crimes, license revocations, or other changes that could endanger your firm.
- Ensuring regulatory compliance: You can make sure that staff have the licenses, certifications, or clearances needed for their positions by conducting regular screenings.
- Fostering a culture of accountability: Post-hire screening demonstrates to staff that your business values honesty and keeps personnel accountable for their conduct.
Best practices for continuous monitoring and post-hire screening
To implement an effective continuous monitoring and post-hire screening program, consider the following best practices:
- Develop a clear policy: Create a thorough policy outlining the goal, reach, and frequency of post-hire screening, as well as the steps to take if any issues are discovered. Make sure the policy conforms with all relevant rules and regulations and is in line with the principles of your firm.
- Obtain employee consent: Before running background checks, let employees know about your post-hire screening procedures and continual monitoring policies. This promotes openness and trust throughout the working relationship.
- Use a risk-based approach: Make sure your post-hire screening approach is tailored to the particular hazards connected to the various employment functions and responsibilities. Employees with access to sensitive financial information, for instance, could need more frequent credit checks, whereas those in tasks that involve safety might need consistent drug testing.
Legal considerations and privacy concerns
When implementing continuous monitoring and post-hire screening, be aware of legal considerations and privacy concerns:
- Comply with applicable laws and regulations: Learn about the post-hire screening laws and regulations as well as state privacy laws. Make sure that your screening procedures adhere to these specifications.
- Respect employee privacy: Constantly strike a balance between the requirement for background checks and employees' right to privacy. Avoid accessing private content or accounts without permission and limit your filtering to information that is relevant to your profession.
- Handle sensitive information with care: Be sure to retain any sensitive data obtained through post-hire screening securely and to only discuss it with your organization's appropriate decision-makers.
By implementing continuous monitoring and post-hire screening, you can proactively address potential risks, maintain a safe and secure work environment, and foster a culture of accountability within your organization.
#9: Collaborate with a reputable background screening provider
Working with a reputable background screening provider can significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your employee background screening process. A professional provider will have the necessary resources, expertise, and experience to conduct comprehensive and accurate background checks, helping you make well-informed hiring decisions.
Advantages of partnering with a background screening provider
Partnering with a professional background screening provider offers several benefits, including:
- Access to expertise: A trustworthy service will have a thorough awareness of industry standards, regulatory requirements, and best practices for background checks, enabling you to move through the intricate screening process with ease.
- Comprehensive and accurate results: Professional screening companies have access to large databases and resources, allowing them to perform complete background checks on a variety of factors, including criminal histories, career histories, and educational backgrounds.
- Time and cost savings: By streamlining the procedure and lessening the workload on your own staff, outsourcing the background screening process can save your company time and resources.
Selecting the right background screening provider
When choosing a background screening provider, consider the following factors:
- Experience and reputation: Choose a company who has a solid track record in your sector and a reputation for providing background screening services that are accurate, dependable, and compliant.
- Range of services: Pick a service provider who provides a wide range of screening services, such as criminal history checks, employment and educational verifications, credit checks, and drug tests. By doing this, you can be sure that you have access to all the data you require to make wise hiring selections.
- Compliance and security: Verify that the supplier maintains strict data security measures and complies with all applicable laws and regulations in order to safeguard the private information of your candidates.
Building a successful partnership
To maximize the benefits of your collaboration with a background screening provider, consider the following best practices:
- Establish clear communication: Keep the lines of communication open with your provider to make sure they are aware of the unique needs, demands, and expectations of your firm.
- Set performance metrics: Create key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the success and efficacy of your background check procedure, and collaborate with your provider to make sure these goals are attained.
- Review and refine the process: Together with your provider, regularly examine and analyze your background screening procedure and make any necessary modifications to increase accuracy, efficiency, and compliance.
By partnering with a reputable background screening provider, you can enhance your employee background screening results, streamline your hiring process, and mitigate potential risks associated with hiring unsuitable candidates.
#10: Train HR and hiring managers on background screening best practices
Training your HR team and hiring managers on background screening best practices is crucial to ensure a consistent, effective, and legally compliant screening process across your organization. By providing the necessary knowledge and tools, you can empower your team to make informed decisions and minimize potential risks associated with hiring unsuitable candidates.
Benefits of background screening training
Investing in background screening training offers several advantages, including:
- Improved decision-making: Making more informed recruiting decisions requires HR and hiring managers to have a greater understanding of the complexities of background checks and how to interpret the results.
- Legal compliance: Your staff can traverse the complicated legal landscape and maintain compliance throughout the hiring process with the help of training on pertinent laws and regulations as well as equal employment rules.
- Consistency and efficiency: A well trained workforce will be better able to apply and adhere to standard screening procedures, producing more reliable and effective findings.
Key components of background screening training
A comprehensive background screening training program should cover the following topics:
- Best practices: Inform your team on the best practices for running background checks, such as getting candidate consent, utilizing several sources of data, and concentrating on material that is job-relevant.
- Legal and regulatory requirements: To assist your team in ensuring compliance during the screening process, educate your team on pertinent laws, regulations, and state-specific privacy laws.
- Interpretation of results: Instruct your staff in the proper interpretation of background check results, risk assessment, and hiring decisions.
- Addressing discrepancies and adverse actions: Your team should receive training on the right ways to handle disputes, pre-adverse action notices, and disparities in background check results.
Implementing a successful training program
To ensure the success of your background screening training program, consider the following best practices:
- Use a variety of training methods: Use a variety of training techniques to accommodate various learning preferences and styles, such as in-person seminars, online courses, and written materials.
- Engage subject matter experts: Include subject matter specialists in background checks, human resources, and employment legislation to offer precise and current advice.
- Encourage ongoing learning: To help your team stay up to date and preserve their knowledge, provide regular refresher courses and information on new changes in background screening best practices and laws.
By training your HR team and hiring managers on background screening best practices, you can create a more effective and compliant hiring process, leading to better background screening results and a stronger workforce.
In today's competitive business landscape, ensuring the quality and integrity of your workforce is essential for success. By implementing the 10 ways discussed in this blog post, you can significantly improve your employee background screening results and make more informed hiring decisions. These strategies, which include implementing a comprehensive screening policy, using multiple sources for background checks, verifying credentials, screening social media profiles, and collaborating with a reputable background screening provider, will help you build a strong, reliable, and compliant workforce.
Additionally, investing in continuous monitoring, post-hire screening, and training for your HR team and hiring managers will enable your organization to proactively address potential risks and maintain a safe and secure work environment. By embracing these best practices, you can not only enhance the effectiveness of your background screening process but also foster a culture of accountability and transparency within your organization.