Background Checks for Beginners – Where to Start

Almost every successful company comes to a point when their staff is overwhelmed with job tasks and they need to hire more people, so they can complete the work. Managers and HR specialists need to recruit and hire new employees to meet the increased demand when that point approaches. While the prospect of growth is certainly exciting, it comes with responsibilities and potential risks. You can minimize these and hire confidently with the right background check. But, is that legal? How far can we get with our “digging” in the past of the persons of our interest, until it reaches some critical level of diving too deep into someone’s privacy? How to do that, and still respect the boundaries?

Easier said than done? Definitely. Background checks can be very complicated for beginners and junior HR recruiters who are at the start of their careers in the business. This article will list the most effective strategies as part of the check process.

Choose a Reliable Agency

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Your recruiters can benefit from cooperation with a reliable check agency no matter what your needs are. Companies like checkpeople specialize in background checks and offer useful insights and unique resources to guide their clients through the screening process when they need to decide who to invite on an interview, or who to hire. Your background check agency must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), customize its services to your needs, offer accessible and responsive customer support, and provide timely and cost-effective reports.

Clarify the Screening Procedure

Best screening practices and the FCRA obligate companies to ensure transparency with applicants. Explain to job applicants why the background check needs to be done before you begin screenings. Clarify to them how the check report can affect their employment prospects. Some of them may not be comfortable with that, so it’s better for them to know and to give up on the application, especially if they want to keep their privacy safe, for some reason. If the candidate doesn’t want to be a part of all of that, it’s not necessary because they hide something from you. Some people just respect their privacy and think they’re giving only the information the potential employer needs to get to know them better. The recruiters should respect that decision, and move to the next candidate who doesn’t have the same problem.

Searches and packages are set up by your company and your background check agency based on your industry and needs. The next step is establishing screening process guidelines and employment policy. Job candidates need to be aware and have access to these guidelines so they can decide whether to pursue employment with your organization or not. Candidates must understand what consequences their reports can have. They need to sign an FCRA-required consent form before you are able to move forward with the background check.

A Consistent Policy is in Order

All parties involved need to be aware of the steps and the time frames of the check. Ideally, document your policy in a flow chart. Random screenings can cause legal troubles if you are not applying the policy consistently, i.e., you’re screening some candidates and not others based on their background. Your applicants should always have the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings or mistakes.

Sometimes, information obtained through screenings is not accurate. If you give someone the chance to assess the information, you might be saving a potentially amazing employee that would otherwise have been excluded without justification. So, if you are a recruiter who needs to check all the applications, do that for every candidate that is potentially good for the position you offer and don’t make exceptions. It’s understandable that one candidate can seem more trustable than the other, but you must do this screening and check for all the people that want to work in your company. If you don’t do that, it can happen that you’ll be blinded by someone’s exceptional CV and resume, and you will miss important things like previous employer recommendations and practical qualifications.

Talk to a Lawyer

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In some states and countries, a background check can’t give you certain information. However, it can still give access to very sensitive data, so get legal advice to make sure your screening does not have legal ramifications. Because of that, you need to talk to a layer or a legal consultant and research every aspect of your activity. They will tell you how the laws work and how far can you go with your screening and check on your potential coworkers. Don’t miss this important step, so you won’t get in trouble because of ruining someone’s privacy.

Collect Information from Candidates

Your background check agency can start its search once applicants are aware of how their report will be used. Don’t forget to obtain their signed consent form. Most agencies will check watchlists, state, local, and national criminal records, ID verification records, and sex offender registries. Your reports will be accurate and comprehensive only if you can provide all the necessary information about your candidates to the agency.

For a basic check, you don’t need more than a full name, a birth date, and a Social Security number. For maximum accuracy and specific results, giving a current address can help. For international watchlist checks and driving record checks, you might need a passport or a driver’s license number.

Usually, the applicants give all the necessary information with their CV, resume, and motivational letter, and they provide their LinkedIn profile too. Even if we don’t say it loud, recruits can also check the public social media profiles, so they can get to know the candidate better. Yes, we know it’s not appropriate, but it happens, and people are accepting it.

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Interpret and Review

Once the agency presents its findings, it must respond to your questions about the report’s contents. Refer to the employment policy and guidelines as you review the results.

It may be that the results of a candidate’s report will discourage you from hiring them. If this happens, you have to inform them accordingly and clarify the ways in which the report affected your decision. Know that candidates are allowed to dispute the report, and the process is not as easy as simply moving on with the other applicants. Also, you must respect the laws, and never dig deeper than it’s allowed, so you can show respect to the potential candidate, or even call them later or in a few years if you have an appropriate offer. And another one thing to keep in mind – if the candidate thinks your background check is inappropriate and ruins their privacy, they have a full right to take legal actions against you, so you must be prepared for that too.

This sums up our guide to background checks for beginners. We hope it will help you establish a transparent and effective screening process. Good luck! If completed properly, the check will make sure your new employees are exactly who you need.