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January 18, 2022

HR's Recipe for A Successful Background Screening Process

HR Recipe Background ScreeningTrained chefs know what makes a successful meal, and HR Pros know what makes a successful background screening process. With both, you need the right tools, the best ingredients, attention to detail, and great presentation.

If you miss an ingredient in cooking, your finished product may be flat, dull, and tasteless. Miss an important part of your background screening process, and you could be on the hook for costly and embarrassing litigation, increased turnover, and even fines for not complying with employment laws.

We’ve laid out HR’s recipe for a successful background screening process. Follow it to create a masterpiece!

Just Like Fresh Ingredients, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Are Essential

Diversity and inclusion are required components in today’s high-functioning workplace. Creativity and ingenuity stem from multiple walks of life and experiences, and a company’s culture grows and thrives when people from different genders, races, ages, and religions participate. Focus on creating policies and providing training to make your organization more diverse and inclusive.

A Healthy Helping of Criminal Records Searches

A common misconception is that a single criminal search returns complete information on a person. It does not. Different crimes are held in different places. For example, only pulling a national criminal search can cause you to miss crucial information. Consider using county, federal and national database searches as part of your background screening process.

Mix in a Documented Drug Screening Process

There are a variety of drug testing tools, from saliva to hair to urine testing, that can assist in uncovering a job seeker’s drug use. Even if you choose to not test for marijuana, you can still rule out other drug use with the right tools. Document when and how your company will use drug testing, and the consequences of a positive result. Use open communication to make sure all the participants in the hiring process know how the process works and follow it.

Add a Dash of the Applicant’s Employment History

The best way to predict future behavior is to analyze past behavior. If you're not using a third-party background screening company to conduct employment verification searches, you may be missing information on the employee’s performance, honesty, punctuality, and overall motivation. In fact, they could be lying about employment dates, title, or may have never worked there at all!

Toss in Some Verified Education Searches

If an educational background is essential to a position, don't take the applicant’s claim at face value. They could have easily bought a fake diploma online. Verify all education directly from the institution through a third-party background screening company.

Just like salt and pepper, no recipe for background screening is successful without COMPLIANCE!

Relevance and Fairness in Every Bite

Using criminal history and credit history to screen for employment is under scrutiny, and various laws have been passed or are in the works in multiple states and cities. 

Practice compliance to avoid litigation!

Exclusion of applicants based on conviction records is prohibited unless the employer can show that it considered:

1) the nature and gravity of the offence or offences

 2) the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence

3) the nature of the position held or sought.

The background screening tools you use must be relevant to the specific position.

Follow the Recipe Regarding State and Local Laws

Several laws regarding salary history questions, credit report usage in the hiring process, and “ban the box” have recently passed in states and cities, with others in the works. This means what is legal in one state may be unlawful in another. Stay abreast of the regulations in the cities and states you do business.

Consistency: Good for Mashed Potatoes and for Background Screening

Deciding to check an applicant’s background because you don’t like the way they look, or blowing off a background check if the applicant is well dressed and smoothly answers questions, can get you sued. If you’re going to screen one candidate for a position, you need to screen them all in the same manner. Sticking to a documented policy maximizes your chances of success.

Top It Off with Proper Adverse Action Procedures

If the background check returns information that makes you not want to hire the person, you can’t just throw away their application and move on. You must notify the applicant, provide a copy of the background report, and provide “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” This part of the process is called “Pre-Adverse Action”.

The applicant may contact the background screening company if they want to dispute any information in the background report.

If the employment decision is adverse, send a notice of adverse action to the applicant. There needs to be reasonable time (usually at least 5 business days) between the Pre-Adverse Action Letter and the Adverse Action Letter.

Formulating and executing the company’s background screening process is an important job. Just like a complicated recipe, it has lots of moving parts, and there are typically more than one “cook in the kitchen” involved that can derail it. A clearly laid out, written plan that everyone understands is the first step in creating a strong policy that protect the workplace AND is fair and relevant to the applicants.

Susan McCullah

Susan McCullah is the Marketing Project Manager for Data Facts Background Screening Division.

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