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Background screening do’s and don’ts

Before hiring a job applicant, companies and their human resources teams take a number of preemptive steps. Chief among these is the interview process, whereby interested candidates can showcase why they would make the best fit. Once this portion of recruitment has been completed and businesses are ready to extend an offer, executives may decide to conduct a background check on the potential employee. These screenings come with their own requirements that organizations should recognize. Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts of background checks:

Companies should be sure to follow state and federal requirements for screenings.

Do: Follow necessary regulations

The legal ramifications of the screening process depend on local, state and federal rules, so it’s critical that companies follow these guidelines. HR teams can ensure their practice is compliant by working with a responsible third-party service provider as well as an educated legal team. In addition to the various regulations enforced by area and job-related laws, organizations should be sure to have candidates complete a release form, inform applicants of their rights and give the person being screened a copy of the final report, according to Forbes. Although a background check can prove a valuable tool for determining if a possible worker will be the right choice, if the practice is not completed properly businesses could find themselves in hot water.

Don’t: Do it alone

Many HR leaders believe they can complete a successful and comprehensive background check in-house on all applicants. Unfortunately, conducting screenings using online resources may not reveal as much information as businesses want – or need – to make the best decision. Instead of relying on a limited search, companies should work with a screening partner. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, this kind of relationship will allow organizations to access more concrete, legally obtained data and it’s only available via a partnership with a licensed firm.

“HR leaders have to be cognizant of discriminatory practices.”

Do: Apply the same standards to every applicant

While businesses may have good intentions when completing candidate screenings, these checks can become problematic if they’re found to be discriminatory. The information gathered from the process must be used carefully when making a hiring decision. To ensure the practice isn’t an issue, HR teams should apply the same standards to every potential employee, regardless of race, sex, religion, disability, country of origin, genetic information and age, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition, organizations must be cognizant when basing employment choices on background issues that may be more prevalent among people of certain religions, ethnicities, races, ages, sexuality and more. If it’s not job-related, it shouldn’t be considered.

Don’t: Use the conviction box

The majority of candidates have seen it before: the small checkbox that asks whether or not they’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Yet, agencies like the EEOC are attempting to get rid of this portion of job applications as it can result in immediate discrimination. It’s not smart to reject a potential employee based on an arrest or conviction alone. Instead, companies should consider whether that background portion will affect the person’s ability to perform the position, according to the Houston Chronicle. Depending on the state in which they operate, businesses may only be able to see – or consider – arrests and convictions within the past five to seven years in their screenings.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, around 70% of companies complete background checks. With so many organizations conducting this practice, it’s crucial their HR teams follow state and federal regulations, are cognizant of discriminatory actions and always utlilize a third party for the screenings. All of these steps will ensure the background checks are efficient and effective.

SBS Payroll offers businesses an experienced team of screening professionals able to complete a variety of comprehensive reports.

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