Today’s companies recognize the importance of conducting employment background checks. Background checks are an important component of most hiring practices. According to a national survey of HR professionals, 96% of employers conduct at least one type of background screening.
Whether organizations seek to verify previous employment and educational credentials, check references, or identify criminal history, performing a complete background check helps bring transparency to the hiring process and reduces risk for the company, its employees, and customers.
Background checks come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the industry and type of position. However, conducting a thorough background check takes more than simply selecting an off-the-shelf background screening solution.
HR professionals need to be aware of the pitfalls of an incomplete background check, both for the integrity of the hiring process and to reduce risk to the company in the long and short term. Here are some of the common pitfalls of incomplete background checks and how to avoid them:
1. Downplaying the Risks
Background checks aren’t simply for identifying individuals who have committed a federal crime or who have been terminated for company misconduct. There are many other aspects of an employee’s history that require verification and investigation.
One staffing industry survey noted that about 46% of employees said they knew someone who lied on their résumé. A thorough background check can identify individuals who have misrepresented their education or professional credentials, those who have provided false references, and those with postemployment criminal convictions.
Downplaying the risks associated with poor or incomplete background checks can open organizations up to negligence claims, reputational risk, and dangerous activities in the workplace. Companies can successfully manage these risks by choosing a comprehensive screening program provider that not only identifies troubling past behavior but also thoroughly verifies the background information candidates and employees provide.
2. Conducting One-Size-Fits-All Checks
Just as the recruiting process may vary for different types of positions in different functions, the background check process can vary depending on position or industry.
For example, employees in positions requiring interaction with children or the elderly or those involving direct patient care within the healthcare field will require exclusion and debarment checks as required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other bodies. Employees in financial services may require a credit check as part of a comprehensive background screening.
Given all the variations between types of positions and the possible categories to check, companies must do more than simply enter an employee’s address and Social Security number in an online portal and wait for a feedback report. Instead, take the time to determine the individual background check needed for each segment of the employee population. This ensures the right aspects of individual backgrounds are checked thoroughly and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
3. Following an Incomplete Verification Process
Not all background checks are created equal, and many do not go far enough. To ensure background checks uncover employee misrepresentations or omissions, it’s important to select a background check provider that helps overcome the following mistakes:
- Not covering all of the bases: Background checks don’t need to be limited to educational, criminal, and employment history. Key elements of a preemployment screening should also include professional licenses and certifications, consumer credit reports, motor vehicle records, and a Social Security fraud check.
- Insufficient check attempts: It’s important to be cautious of background check providers that follow a “three and out rule” specific to employment and education verification attempts, making only three verification attempts before closing a background check as incomplete. Limited checks will result in a higher number of incomplete background screenings—checks for which the company is still billed.
- Unverified sources: Employment information should be verified with the appropriate primary source (for example, a company’s HR department) and not solely with the name and number candidates provide on their employment application or résumé.
- Incomplete education verification: Educational background checks should verify that an applicant’s listed school is real, not a diploma mill, and that the institution’s legitimacy is confirmed by an acceptable accreditation body.
- Limited diversity of criminal background checks: There are many different types of criminal record searches at the county, state, and federal levels, and it’s necessary to understand which searches will most effectively meet the needs of your organization.
Incomplete background checks can be costly, negatively impacting a company’s bottom line and opening it to regulatory or reputational risk. To avoid the common pitfalls of incomplete background checks, it’s important to choose a background check provider that understands where and how to get the most accurate and verifiable employee background information possible.
Your background check provider should also work with you to recommend the most appropriate background check solutions based on your industry and type of employee positions. Background checks are too important to leave to a provider that doesn’t provide thorough and comprehensive information.
|Matt Jaye is Vice President of Sales for Corporate Screening, a Cleveland, Ohio-based provider of global background screening and Human Resources outsourcing (HRO)-related solutions that was established in 1987. Jaye, a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), has been with Corporate Screening for more than 20 years.|