Background Screening Job Applicants

Many companies conduct some type of background screening of job applicants before they onboard a new hire. It’s considered a best practice. In-the-know applicants are aware of this, and assume that someone from your company, or an outside partner, will reach out to their professional references to verify certain work-related facts, including:

  • Dates of employment,
  • Titles and position held, and
  • Specific, job-related skills.

Plenty of job applicant background screens go beyond asking references about work history.

Whether your company policy mandates it, or it is required by law, your company might need to conduct more comprehensive background screening. For example, you might:

  • Check an applicant’s criminal background
  • Review their driving records, if operating a motor vehicle is an essential function of the job.
  • Ask to review their credit report
  • Request that they submit to a drug screening.
  • Check if they are a registered sex offender

What does your job applicant background screening process look like?

Like many parts of the hiring workflow, background screenings can add more administrative tasks and details to your plate. You need to collect consent forms, make phone calls, and track any feedback you receive. Our recent Spotlight, “From Job Offer to Onboarding” sheds light on how your applicant tracking system (ATS) can help you save time and stay organized during the process.

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Background Screening Job Applicants
Background screening job applicants is a best practice that may include confirming dates of employment, titles, positions held, and more comprehensive tests.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Job Applicant Background Screens

No matter what level background screening you’re conducting, there are a few things to be aware of before you begin the process. Here are five key questions that can help your company as you build, review, and follow your screening process:

  1. Are you familiar with federal, state, and local laws related to discrimination and the use of information from background screens?

If you use an applicant’s background information to make a hiring decision, your company must follow federal laws that protect applicants and employees from discrimination on the grounds of their race, color, national origin, sex, or religion; disability; genetic information (including family medical history); and age.

  1. Have you gotten legal advice on how laws govern your use of background checks?

Background checks can bring sensitive personal information to light, and some jurisdictions prohibit companies from gathering certain types of information or limit when in the process a background check may occur if at all

  • If your company is still building its background screening process, or if you’re not sure about the one that exists, consult with a legal professional to be sure you are complying with federal, state, and local laws.
  1. Have you requested and received written permission from your job applicant to conduct a more extensive background screening? 

Under the FCRA, you must provide notice and receive the applicant’s authorization before you or a third-party partner conducts an investigative background screening.

  • If you choose to reject a applicant because of something you learned from an investigative report, you must first provide the applicant with a copy of the report
  1. Are your background screenings consistent from applicant to applicant?

If your background screening process is inconsistent, or if you company doesn’t apply the same measures to every applicant, this may be seen as discriminatory. Make sure each applicant is subjected to the same level of screening.

  1. Have you checked your timing?

Timing plays a role at every stage of the hiring process, and that includes when companies decide to conduct background checks. Sometimes, waiting until after you’ve identified your final applicant is about helping to control costs. After all, if you’re using a third-party solution, then you have to pay for every screening you run. Fees can add up quickly if you’re applying identical background screens to multiple job applicants.

But it’s not always about cost. Most companies wait until after they’ve extended a contingent offer. Some jurisdictions limit when in the process a background check may occur.

As one of the last steps before you onboard your next hire, background screenings are often viewed as essential. Be sure you complete all the required notices and gather appropriate information from the applicant before you screen, then follow a consistent method in compliance with local, state and federal laws to ensure a successful process.

There are any number of areas of an applicant’s history your company might want to look into, depending on laws, the job or the industry. Getting the insight you need is a key part to a successful hiring workflow. Contact a myStaffingPro representative today, and find out how we can help you stay organized at every step.

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