4 Best Practices for Better Background Checks

HR Insights for Professionals

HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Doing background checks on candidates can help you make the most of your recruitment process and ultimately find the right person for the job.

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Background checks are becoming a more standard part of the hiring process, helping those in recruitment find the ideal long-term candidate. But you need to make sure you are taking the necessary measures to protect your business from any potential negative fallout.

A background check can refer to anything from looking into someone's education and employment history to social media screening and even cross-referencing criminal databases.

With a growing concern on a person's right to their own sensitive information, it's important that employers are aware of what the current best practice is to ensure they're not compromising the integrity of the wider business at any stage.

1. Reach out to a third party

In most instances, especially where you are looking into criminal or financial databases, it can be safer for your company to consult a third-party to carry out any background checks. Not only does this make sure professionals who know what they're doing are handling the sensitive information but also adds a layer of protection for your own company if someone makes an error.

Another benefit of reaching out to a specialist is that it can be a more time-efficient way of checking candidates. If recruitment teams are burdened with the additional responsibility of doing background checks, it may cause a massive bottleneck in your hiring process, as well as putting added pressure on a single team.

2. Be wary of any information you find

If you're confident on doing background checks yourself, then you need to make sure you use an element of caution with the information you find. There are many reasons why a candidate may not have wanted to flag up a certain part of their past in a job application and it's important that you don't jump to any conclusions. You also need to ensure you're staying within any state or federal laws for grace periods.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides guidelines for what data you can legally use to filter out candidates from the recruitment process. However, if you want to ensure that you are being completely fair, gathering a mixed panel to review the information can be a good way of gaining a clearer perspective on any details that may be flagged up. 

3. Try not to judge

Although many hiring managers are unaware, removing someone from the recruitment process solely because of their criminal history is a form of discrimination and therefore against the law. Because of this, and the need to identify the candidate who is best suited for the job, you need to ensure you're not unfairly judging anyone because of their previous history.

This is also good practice because not all criminal records are the same. For example, a violent offence is hardly comparable to a traffic violation but both can be flagged up in a background check.

4. Talk to candidates

If you have a concern about something that has been found during a background check, the best thing to do is to raise it with the individual. Legally, employers have to provide this information if it's requested but you could miss out on truly valuable talent if you dismiss them because of something you saw in a background check, as well as potentially flouting the law.

This not only gives them the opportunity to explain what you've found and why they left it off their application but starts a dialogue about it. It's important to remember that the cost of making a bad hire greatly overshadows the expense of screening and background checks so it's wise to spend as much time as necessary identifying the right candidate.

However, it's just as important that you don't allow a mistake in someone's past to sully an outstanding job application.

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