There has been a lot in the news lately about applicant screening practices and what is considered “best practice” versus what can land an employer in the middle of a discrimination claim. Education requirements, credit checks, genetic testing, and social media screening have all been called into question recently. Despite the negative publicity, thorough background screening is an integral part of making a good hiring decision and is even required in some industries.
While there are some pitfalls to be avoided, below are some suggestions on how to complete thorough checks while being mindful of the laws and privacy of those individuals who apply at your company.
Contact Professional References. While some companies may have a policy against providing any information other than a previous employee’s employment dates and job title, many supervisors/past employers will provide you with their feedback on a previous employee’s performance. We recommend you inquire about an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses, why the individual left the company and if they are re-hirable.
Perform a Comprehensive Criminal Record Check. This check should include searches in the counties/states where an applicant has lived, worked and attended school as well as a check of the national criminal database. Merely checking your county or state records is not sufficient as people can move frequently.
Run a Credit History Check. While some state laws limit the use of credit checks in hiring decisions, if the position requires access to large amounts of cash or sensitive information, they are generally allowed. An individual who has been irresponsible with his/her own finances may have the potential to be irresponsible with yours.
Implement Job-Related Assessments. There are a variety of computer-based tests, everything from bank teller skills tests to personality/profile assessments. These tests, if created and used correctly, can give an employer insight into a person’s skills and fit for a position.
Use Social Media Outlets Wisely. While conducting social media checks can open an employer up to potential discrimination claims, it comes down to what an employer does with the information they find on a social media site. For example, merely Googling an applicant’s name to see what pops up is not illegal. Taking any information you might find on the internet at face value and using it as the deciding factor in hire could land you in hot water. Remember, not everything you find on the internet is the truth! Do your due diligence!!!!