Background Check Considerations

6 Things To Know When Conducting A Background Check

Selecting good hires from among the multitudes of candidates is a lot of responsibility. There are many steps in the process and none of them should be taken lightly. Here are six things to think about when performing background checks.


1. Reveal Hidden Problems

In this article in Entrepreneur magazine, there is a general list of tips for recruiting high-quality candidates, #12 on that list states the cold truth of why this is not just a formality of the hiring process. When you hire someone, you are changing the work environment. There is a new personality about to join the mix. For good or for bad, you are contaminating the team with a new person. Doing this step correctly protects the team from problems. A bad hire might end in legal battles or with a need to rebuild a team devastated from mass attrition.


2. Be Careful and Aware of Legal Issues

Some cities and states may have laws that are more restricting. Several places have banned the use of the early application question asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. This is often referred to as the “box.” As in, marking the check box if they have a criminal history. It is legally safer to do a thorough criminal background check further along in the process. Following that tip in this Forbes article is advice to be very careful, consistent and fair when you design your hiring system.


3. Call the References Yourself

Hiring managers for high-profile or executive positions know that because of the importance of these roles, a little more digging is necessary. It is a good idea to not just delegate it as a routine check for your HR people. Ask lots of probing questions. Most people, fearing accusations of slander are afraid to tell the truth at first. In the book Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Mr Bossidy describes how he does this. At this level, he often knows a few of the references as direct network contacts. He is able to converse with them and learn a great deal about the candidate.


4. Lean on Candidates to Help Connect You with their Employment History

This tip is #7 from a valuable article by Abdul Rastagar of HireRight. It is in each candidates’ best interest, as well as the hiring manager’s to make the process go quickly. Asking the potential hire to help connect to previous supervisors, from companies that have closed, or who themselves have moved on will help you to get information about their history much more quickly. The same additional information can also be helpful when a school’s name has changed or has closed.


5. Right-Size Your Drug Screening

This is #10 on the previously linked HireRight article. Drug-screening isn’t always one size fits all. If you’re hiring for transportation or healthcare industries, there may be greater reason for more stringent drug testing. You can work with a testing provider to design the right testing for the role that you’re hiring. They have many options. This can also save you money by eliminating portions of the testing that aren’t helpful.


6. Keep the Information You Gather Well-Protected

This should be obvious, but makes a good point for the last tip. You are digging into the past records of a real human being. Whether you hire them or not, you should guard this information for the protection of the candidate and for your company. This is not unlike the HIPAA laws. Employees should be trained that this information is not to be shared beyond those involved in the hiring process. If the candidate has trusted you with their employment records, don’t let a leak of this potentially sensitive information cause legal troubles for your company.


We hope these tips are helpful in your recruiting process. Good luck hunting for your next best employee!

Photo credit: moppet65535 / CC BY-SA 2.0

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