5 rules you should follow on every background check
Running background checks on prospective employees has become a common business practice. For many companies, the responsibility of handling the process lies on the Human Resources Director. And while most HR professionals are experienced and skilled at how to manage the candidate screening process, there are many elements to the background check that need to be followed, legally and ethically. It’s imperative that background checks are handled properly and legally and within the rules of compliance. With that in mind, here’s a handy checklist that will assist you when running background checks and verifying educational background on potential clients.
1. Develop a written policy
If you don’t already have one in place, you should consider developing a background check policy for your company. The policy should be written clearly and as concisely as possible so that it can be distributed to potential employees and any existing employees who will be screened. You can request that applicants sign the policy and furnish them with a copy if they wish.
2. Understand the laws
There are federal and state laws that govern how background checks can be performed and what information is protected and what isn’t. The first and most important thing to remember is that you need to get written consent from the applicant. Some financial records, medical records and other items in a person’s history are considered private. It’s important to be up to date on all the legislation and to remember that laws vary by state so get familiar with the ones that apply to yours.
3. Know what to check for
There are many different types of information that can be accessed when you run a background check and what you’re looking for will depend largely on what position you are attempting to fill. Some of the things most HR directors look for are:
- Verification of identity (social security, date of birth, etc.)
- Credit history
- Criminal history
- Verification of any professional certifications
- Educational background
- Driving records
- Motor vehicle records
- Worker’s compensation claims
- Employment history
4. Make sure it’s relevant
The most common type of background check that you, as an HR director, will usually run is to get verification on the information that the person provided on their application. This includes their past employment, their education, any professional certifications and their identity. After that, your research into a person’s past should be relevant to their position.
If, for example, you’re looking to fill a position whereby the employee will be handling money or making large financial transactions, you will not only want to run a credit check (to gain insight into their level of fiscal responsibility) but you will also want to run a criminal background check to make sure they have a clean record.
5. Don’t discriminate
It may seem obvious, but the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) prohibits discrimination of anyone based on age, race, gender, color, religion, disability and national origin. When running background checks, you cannot base hiring decisions on the information gained as it relates to any of these elements.
For HR directors tasked with finding qualified, credible and responsible employees, background checks are not only beneficial, they’re becoming essential. By utilizing them, you’re able to gain access to critical information that will help you properly assess the suitability of candidates and provide the verification you need on any information they provide. Contact us today to have your screening and selection process reviewed by our team of experts.