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Employee Background Check Do's and Don'ts

Ross Bennett
Ross Bennett September 11, 2020
Background Check Do's and Don'ts

When hiring new employees, performing a background check can save you time and money further down the line. However, there is a certain set of do's and don'ts to be aware of whether you are hiring yourself or having a talent manager or a hiring firm doing the hiring for you. Otherwise you risk finding a lawsuit on your hands that could have easily been avoided.

1. Personality vs. Job Performance

Social media screening has become widely popular in the hiring process. However, it can easily turn into walking on thin ice. While there are certain things that can easily reveal your candidate's potential as a future employee or highlight any red flags having to do with their job performance or work ethic, there is also information that should not and cannot affect your decision on whether or not to hire someone. These things include but are not limited to the candidate's ethnic background, race, sexual orientation, and beliefs (religious or other). Furthermore, looking into whether or not they are a part of a larger group or organization should also be avoided.

One way to work around this is having a third party do the screening for you and only report information that directly showcases their potential as a future employee.

Consulting a lawyer or a human resources professional who is experienced dealing with this should allow your company to establish an inner model of how to deal with pre-hire screening that can reveal any red flags.

2. Medical records are forbidden territory

Every job requires a set of skills and that's a fact. Despite that, companies are forbidden to factor any potential medical issues that the candidate has in the hiring process. This information can and should only be disclosed once an initial offer has been made and these days companies are required to try and make any potential accommodations that would help an employee with a medical condition perform the job with ease.

3. Disclose financial background checks with the candidate

If you do need to perform a financial background check, you should always disclose this to the candidate as well as ask their permission to access their expenses. Be thorough and clear about what information you are going to check. Nowadays it's more common that employers check candidate's credit and loan status but this should always be revealed to the candidate before the checks are done.

4. Be open-minded about criminal history

Almost all employers these days will check whether or not a candidate has had criminal convictions in the past. While it might be tempting to immediately reject a candidate with a criminal record, keep in mind that not all convictions carry the same weight. Just because someone has been arrested doesn't mean they have necessarily taken part in criminal activities. For example, someone might be caught in a so-called police sweep after a sports event or a protest.

5. Double-check everything

Measure twice, cut once. This couldn't be more applicable than when it comes to conducting background checks prior to hiring someone. Be particularly alert when it comes to the accuracy of names. Again, this is a time when it's worth considering a third party or a background check professional to do the job for you.

Ross Bennett
Ross Bennett September 11, 2020

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