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Tips for Pre-Employment Background Checks

Business people waiting for job interview. Four candidates compe

Tips for Pre-Employment Background Checks

Posted by Payroll Data Processing in Blog Jan 18 2016

The hiring process can be stressful yet exciting for HR professionals and managers. Once you’ve gotten through the piles of applications and resumes, you actually get to focus on meeting and interviewing candidates, one of whom will eventually become an employee. While prepping for the interview is certainly important, you don’t want to forget about another crucial aspect of the hiring process: background checks. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you conduct your pre-employment background checks.

Before you get started with any background checks for any of your candidates, HR professionals and managers in charge of hiring decisions need to be well-informed of the most recent “ban the box” laws. These policies state that questions about criminal history must be left off of the application. Ban the box laws can vary by state, county, and even city and will often state at what point you can run a background check. Be sure to look up the laws in your area to see what will apply to your company’s hiring process.

On a similar note, many ban the box laws state that you can’t run a background check on a candidate until after the first interview has been completed. Even if there aren’t any ban the box laws in your area, it’s still a good idea for HR professionals and managers to wait until later on in the hiring process to start background checks. This will reduce the chances of your business being accused of discrimination against candidates with a criminal record. You’ll also be saving a little money if you hold off on background checks for a while. Instead of doing a background check on the entire pool of applicants, you’ll only need to spend money on a handful when you get down to the final few candidates.

Managers and HR professionals also need to be mindful of using the same background checks on all applicants. Before you get to the background check stage, decide which checks you want to run such as driving history, criminal history, or credit history. Whichever ones you decide will serve your purposes best, be sure to use the same ones for every applicant you check. Otherwise, you may be accused of discrimination.

Turning to social media has become a new form of background check in recent years. However, managers and HR professionals should exercise caution when considering this route. Taking a peek at a potential employee’s online life on Facebook or other social media sites can give you an idea of the kind of person who would be representing your brand. You may be heading into dangerous territory with social media background checks, though, since many people reveal information online that is illegal to address on an application or in an interview, information like race, sexual orientation, religion, and marital status just to name a few. This can make it difficult if not impossible to make a non-discriminatory hiring decision.

Pre-employment background checks can be very helpful for HR professionals and managers to make the right decision about a new hire. Be sure to examine your background check policy from every angle to ensure that you are being efficient without being discriminatory.