About Pre-Employment Background Checks

Part 1 in our new 12-part series Understanding Pre-Employment Background Screening.

In order to keep a company alive and competitive in today’s world, new people must be hired. Sure, there are a lot of benefits that a company can get from an employee base bonded by time and common experiences. However, in order to assimilate new knowledge about the world which the company operates in, there has to be new blood. However, companies risk their reputations and significant cost when they hire new employees. There are certain considerations that must be made in order for a company to entrust someone with its future. It is because of this that companies should always conduct pre-employment background checks.

What exactly happens during a pre-employment background check? Well, the first thing that companies would do in a pre-employment background check is to ascertain the validity of the information a candidate has submitted. This includes the candidate’s academic background and previous work experiences. Whether or not he or she submitted accurate information within their resume can be revealed in the pre-employment background check so it’s always wise to state facts accurately and to avoid exaggeration. This part of the pre-employment background check will help the potential employer ascertain just how much they can trust the candidate. Trust, of course, is a key factor in the employee-employer relationship.

A pre-employment background check also attempts to uncover facts which may have been omitted in the resume. Omission can be just as bad as an outright lie as candidates will not be giving the company all the facts that it needs to judge the candidate accurately. Omission can typically be uncovered in a pre-employment background check. A typical background screen will include a multi-jurisdictional criminal check, which usually checks hundreds of millions of database records to determine if the candidate has a warrant, criminal records or has been sanctioned by the US or foreign governments for terrorist activities, Medicare fraud, government fraud or other sanctions.

Pre-employment background checks help with getting to know the person behind the paper. Although a candidates’ resume tells a prospective employer what that candidate did and when, resumes always put the very best light on an individual and sometimes omit the less positive information. A pre-employment background check can help future employers understand their candidates as people, positive and negative attributes alike.

By conducting pre-employment background checks, companies are helping to ensure they hire a candidate that closely matches the company’s ethics and hiring criteria. Pre-employment background checks help to give a company the complete picture of the candidate. This will help the company better understand what they will be able to expect from the candidate in the years to come. Ultimately, this will help them decide whether or not they are willing to trust that candidate with their future.

Some companies are concerned that candidates might be offended by the fact their company performs background checks. It’s important to realize that almost everyone shows their best face whenever they apply for a job. It is an employer’s responsibility to get behind that information and see if the person underneath will be worth the risk. Having results on a pre-employment background screen should not mean an automatic “no-hire” decision. Each result needs to be reviewed individually and considered against factors such as “How many incidents are on this candidate’s report” and “how long as it been since the incident occurred.” A candidate who had one indiscretion seven years ago may be a much safer risk than one who has had multiple incidents reported in the last twelve months. The severity of the incident should also be taken into account, as well as how that incident might bear on the candidate’s actual job. If the candidate has multiple driving infractions and yet would not be expected to drive for the company, does that really matter as part of the hiring decision? Contrarily, multiple convictions for assault may indicate an individual who has trouble with anger management and may not fit in well with the company’s preferred culture.

Just like most things, pre-employment background screening is a tool that must be used properly for its intended purpose in order to be effective. We hope you’ve enjoyed part one of our 12-Part series, Understanding Pre-Employment Background Screening. Next week, we’ll get into the actual components of a typical background screen in part two, What Makes Up a Background Check? As always, this information is provided by USAFact to help you understand background screening in general, but is not intended as legal advice. Be sure to always review your background screening policy with your own legal counsel. If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to call or email us.