For security reasons, the vast majority of companies carry out some type of background check during their hiring process. While they can range from just verifying that the resume and details are accurate, they can also be more extensive (criminal records, contact with former employers, etc.). The higher the position, the more in-depth background checks are likely to be. In this article, we explain the pre-employment screening process.
What are pre-employment checks?
Pre-employment checks are conducted by employers to analyze the history of a job applicant. They are part of the hiring process to ensure that prospective employees are legitimately who they say they are and that they will not become a liability in the future.
Pre-employment checks carry out these types of employment verification:
- Criminal record checks
- Licenses in possession
- History of education (high school and university)
- Employment history
- Authorization to work
- Credit history
- Social media profiles
Pre-employment checks are thorough and assess the degree of risk an employer takes during the hiring process. Potential employees have the potential of either being major assets or hindrances. For that reason, pre-employment screenings are part of the hiring process for certain positions.
Why is it important to conduct pre-employment checks?
Legal liability is the primary reason to perform pre-employment checks. A pre-employment screening process that verifies for signs of past unacceptable activity and behavior makes the workplace more secure. Pre-employment checks also assure that the job applicant has the required aptitude and skills to perform their duty.
When should you conduct background checks?
Background checks should be conducted in the context of a hiring process or following a promotion. Usually, prior employment history and employee reference checks suffice, since criminal background checks can raise invasion of privacy issues. To obtain a criminal background check, employers must demonstrate that there is a valid occupational requirement for doing so.
Additionally, you must always obtain written consent before doing any kind of criminal background check on a job applicant. It is illegal to single out a particular candidate for a background check, so it is best to perform a background check only after a job offer has been presented.
What information can pre-employment screening uncover?
Pre-employment screening can uncover information ranging from a person’s employment history, credit history, legal documents, criminal record, vehicle registration, medical records, employee reference checks, drug test results, and military records. Employers must prove that these searches are pertinent to the vacant position.
When all the required information is collected, HR representatives can assess the prospective employee’s risk profile. For instance, if the job requires someone to have access to sensitive information and the job applicant has reported financial problems, the company exposes itself to a certain level of risk. These are the types of information pre-employment screening triangulates and elucidates.
Employers may also sometimes conduct a character check, which involves striking up a conversation with the job applicant’s personal acquaintances. The scope and characteristics of a background check depend on the employer, the company, and the position to be filled.
How to conduct pre-employment screening
To conduct pre-employment screening tests, the employer must clearly state that a successful pre-employment check is part of the selection process. Nonetheless, most employers only need to confirm employment history with previous employers.
Before conducting pre-employment screenings on any job applicants, an employer should:
- Acquire the applicant’s written consent to conduct the various pre-employment checks proposed;
- Tell the applicant which types of information the pre-employment screening process is focused on;
- Give a clear explanation of why specific information from the prospective employee is scrutinized;
- Ensure that the information obtained from a background check is confidential, no matter the hiring decision.
Here are the basics to conduct pre-employment screening tests:
To get started, it’s best to check available public records: county records, local police records, and state prison records. For this, the justice court can provide a variety of public documents: marriages, divorces, arrests, and property. On the other hand, local police departments can share information about people with criminal histories, as well as details about sex offenders in the area.
Local police departments also have the ability to contact other police departments to find out if a person new to the area is listed as a sexual offender elsewhere. The state corrections department can also provide information about a person’s criminal history.
Education verification & employment history
Employers often contact the academic institutions listed on the person’s resume to verify attendance and graduation dates. This ensures that the job applicant isn’t lying about their credential and that they possess the aptitudes required in the job description. Moreover, employment history and employee reference checks are the most common verification performed. Job applicants are requested to provide a contact number after giving their consent.
Research and social networks
Online research and social media are great resources to conduct pre-employment screenings. Doing a quick Google search can often produce interesting and revealing results about individuals. Information about conferences an employee has attended, projects, or organizations they have been involved with sometimes shows up in a simple search engine search.
Social networking platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook allow people to post personal details, and the employer can review a social networking site to better understand the prospective employee’s temperament.
For some types of background checks, the DIY approach can be unsatisfactory. This is where outsourcing comes in. To perform a pre-employment background check, employment agencies can make the verification you need to make the most informed hiring decision.
The pre-employment screening process of a job applicant is important for recruitment agencies because the hiring decision will be based upon their recommendation. Their task is to be attentive to the different ways a prospective employee may affect a business, including:
- Employees stealing from suppliers
- Employees lying to clients
- Violent or sex offenses
- Dangerous situations
- Theft of personal items
- Identity theft
- Local criminal activity
- County, state, and federal criminal activity
It remains that criminal background checks can only be performed by private investigators or the RCMP. Some will need to involve the Canadian Police Information Center (CPIC) where certain pardons have been obtained. The search can be performed based on a candidate’s name, birthdate, and fingerprints.
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