Pre-employment Screening and Background Checks

It is becoming increasingly important for employers to perform background checks on their potential employees.  In the past, employers would read the CV of potential candidates, make a few telephone calls to previous employers and perform a simple reference check. But days of such simplicity are over and cannot be practiced in today’s world. Workplace violence is increasing and employers need to create a safe environment for all. Besides, the organizations and businesses of today entrust such valuable information into the hands of employees, so it is highly crucial to ensure that people being hired are credible and trustworthy enough for the job. At the same time, employers need to avoid discriminatory practices. Failure to do this can result in expensive lawsuits as well as losses of huge amounts of money.

More than 95 percent of human resource professionals in the United States report using pre-employment screening to hire potential candidates. Pre-employment screening comprises of courses of actions involving background checks, psychometric testing as well as drug testing to investigate the background of potential candidates before hiring them. The whole process can cover several types of employment tests to determine a person’s suitability for the job, such as pre-employment physical tests, cognitive tests, talent assessments tests, personality tests and emotional intelligence testing. Many of these can be done online without the candidate needing to physically present himself or herself at the company’s building.

It is legal for companies to conduct pre-employment screening on potential candidates; so many employers are using it to their full advantage. Background checks from people records generally include verification of identity and information provided by candidates. Terrorist checks and passport validity are also determined. Besides that, employment history, the gaps between employment and criminal history record are also cross checked. Apart from that, character reference check is also important to be carried out. Credit history check is one of the most essential screening methods to employers because it is believed that credit score influences the ethical actions of a future employee. This is because a person who is in a huge debt is more likely to steal from the organization in pressing situations.

So, it is clear that information from public records can go a long way. The kind of information employers search from records is basically linked to the type of jobs that are being offered. A high profile job would require more scrutiny on the potential candidate compared to a simple one that does not involved high responsibility or confidentiality. Generally, background checks can reveal information such as employment records, licensing records, financial information and bankruptcy. It also provides social security numbers, military records, criminal records, sex offender records, citizenship, legal working status and employment records.

While most organizations are jumping onto the bandwagon to conduct more thorough checks on hiring candidates, it is important for employers to take some precautions against legal implications. Employers need to be aware of the American with Disability Act before conducting background checks. Organizations with 15 or more employees need to abide by this act. This means that employers are not allowed to question a person’s disability during a background check, interview or in the hiring process, in order to comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Otherwise, employers may find themselves having to deal with negligent hiring lawsuits.

Another act that employers need to comply with is the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This act requires employers to obtain permission from employees to perform a background check. Therefore, people need to sign a form giving employers the authorization to search their records to obtain information. This act covers almost all reports, especially credit reports. Different states in the United States have different criteria on the types of information that can be checked and obtained in pre-employment screening. So, it is best if employers seek legal guidance in their state to avoid any future problems.

Pre-employment screening and background checks are no longer a luxury and added advantage. They have become a necessity for the well being of the organization. Employers need to be sure that the people they are hiring will not hold hostage the occupants of their building, nor be the culprits of fraud. However, while employers are eager to search people records, they need to do so with caution as to not violate any laws or show favor to discriminatory practices.

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