Five Things You Need to Know about Background Checks

Background checks may not be foremost on your mind as you evaluate a job candidate, but it’s a critical step that should not be overlooked. The consequences, though unlikely, can be severe. You could wind up with a dishonest or violent employee and/or be sued for negligent hiring.

Background checks are not difficult, especially if your staffing firm takes care of the task for you. But even then, there are a number of issues you should be aware of. They shed light on the reasons why 69 percent of organizations conduct background checks on all candidates, as reported by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Look for Patterns

We’re all human and we make mistakes. While you don’t necessarily have to discount a candidate based on a single transgression, be alert for repetitive behavior in their background. For example, you can overlook one speeding ticket, but five should make you think twice. Even if the job has nothing to do with driving, this may indicate that the candidate is inherently careless or has difficulty following rules.

Be Mindful About Credit

An individual’s credit record can be a fair indicator of whether or not you have a solid candidate, but be aware of possible tripwires.

  • You may only be allowed to use credit checks if they’re directly applicable to the position, such as an accounting job.
  • Efforts are in motion to limit the use of credit checks by employers. If you request one, make sure you have a good reason.
  • Have a process for handling negative results. Listen to the candidate’s perspective and then make an informed decision. For instance, the recession may have led to an unexpected job loss which impacted a payment. A negative mark doesn’t necessarily mean a person is wrong for a job.

Be Consistent

Ensure that your background check process is the same for all job candidates. If some applicants receive one kind of treatment and others do not, you run the risk of a discrimination lawsuit.

  • Follow the law. Have release forms completed. Inform candidates of their rights and provide them with copies of reports and related communications.
  • Be broad and thorough. Look at a wide spectrum of information including education, employment, criminal and driving histories, and social media. You may lose a great candidate by limiting your check to one item.

Look Carefully at Education

Robust background checks cover at least a seven-year history. If your candidate is way past college, leap frog back to those days. Double check educational data for all applicants. The sad truth is: Even top-notch prospects may fabricate information.

Case in point: In 2006, Radio Shack CEO David Edmondson resigned after it was revealed that he had lied by saying he had two college degrees, when in fact he had none – ouch!

Follow Up if Something Negative Surfaces

You may be letting go of a high-potential hire if you fail to have a conversation about bothersome background check results. If you’re not satisfied after you’ve done this, then you can move on.

  • Document the conversation. Often, there’s more to the story.
  • Don’t seek out only the negative. Use background checks to locate positive points that could help you choose between two equally qualified candidates.

When it comes to thorough background checks, there’s more than meets the eye. You can ease the burden by having a qualified staffing firm like Employment Professionals Canada handle this critical hiring step for you. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services for Ontario businesses.