Data Facts Background Screening Blog

5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Screening Applicants' Backgrounds

by Susan McCullah

May 22, 2014 9:06:48 AM

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policy_pic-1A good background screening policy should be implemented into every organization's hiring process, as this can help reduce the risk of a bad or unsafe hire. 

There are some pitfalls in screening applicants' backgrounds that employers must be aware of and avoid in order for the process to be effective and compliant.

1: Not getting authorization to perform the search. This mistake can result in a lawsuit! One of the key responsibilities of the employer is to disclose any screening process to the applicant. Employer must disclose in writing to applicant that they will be the subject of a background report as part of the employment selection process.
This document needs to stand alone, it does not need to be part of the employee handbook or the application.

2. Using information that is not relevant to the job position. A person who is applying as a heavy machinery driver may not need a credit check, but he would need a Motor Vehicle Records check and a drug test. Establish relevant screening for each position in your company. This will go a long way toward maintaining practices that are not discriminatory and protecting the workplace.


3. Assuming that all background screening companies are the same. Background screening companies vary widely in the quality and accuracy of their practices and reports. Choose a company that has been in business a long time, that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), and that has private investigators on staff.

4. Screening in an unorganized manner
Companies that do not have a consistent pre-employment screening policy set up as part of their hiring best practices are making a big mistake. A hiring manager cannot choose to run checks on some applicants and ignore checking others, because of EEOC guidelines, and overall good sense. Screen everyone in the same manner, and have a list of the type of screening that is performed for each job function. For example, do not just screen for criminal history if you have a ‘feeling in your gut’. That can cost you BIG!

5.Omitting adverse action proceduresWhen deciding not to hire a person based in whole or part on information obtained from their background screen, make certain you are sending a pre-adverse action letter, followed by an adverse action letter. Do this every time. These simple actions will maintain your compliance and can protect you from litigation down the road. 

Don't fall victim to these background screening pitfalls! Take some time up front to create a good background screening process for screening applicants' backgrounds. The results will be worth the time, and you will reap the reward of honest employees and a safe workplace!

Topics: Data Facts blog, Pre-employment screening, NAPBS accreditation, background screening company, background screen, Data Facts

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~~Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager/ Background Screening Division for Data Facts, Inc, a 25 year old Memphis based company. Data Facts Inc -an NAPBS accredited company- is a leading provider of employment screening solutions. Check out our website for a complete explanation of our services.