When hiring for your business, some job candidates may need more scrutiny than others, depending on the position and the role they’ll play in the company. If they’re lying about their credentials, it may not be that big a deal – or it may directly impact your company’s security and future.
Employee background checks can verify a job candidate’s credentials and ensure you bring on a quality individual who can strengthen your organization. However, it’s crucial that business owners and HR directors carefully evaluate when background checks are necessary and what method is best for conducting them.
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Background checks are advisable when a potential employee in a key role could dramatically adversely affect your company. However, they can also be an unnecessary drain on finances and your HR department’s resources if conducted unnecessarily as part of the hiring process.
First, identifying the events and scenarios that can hurt – or ruin – your business is crucial. Ask yourself the following questions:
Next, evaluate the positions for which you’re hiring and determine if a bad hire in those job roles can potentially ruin your business.
Consider the roles in your company that require employees to have close – and often unsupervised – access to the following:
Background checks are advisable for employees in the above scenarios. Additionally, review local, state and federal laws for background check requirements applicable to your industry. Those laws are designed to protect the general public, customers, employees and your company.
You’ll conduct background checks based on the job position – not how you feel about an individual candidate. All job candidates should experience the same selection process and not be subjected to subconscious bias or discrimination.
Consider your ROI for conducting background checks on specific roles in your company. For example, the following roles are unlikely to create legal, financial or reputational damage:
Conducting a background check on job candidates for such positions would likely be unnecessary.
There are several ways to perform background checks and conduct credential verifications.
A DIY approach involves a manager, business owner or in-house HR employee working to verify candidates’ claims to the best of their ability. This process varies by employer, but it typically leans heavily on candidate-provided information, reference check questions and internet searches.
“DIY verification [is] where the employer or recruiter screens the job candidate by contacting references to verify employment history, skimming through databases to verify educational credentials, comparing resumes with LinkedIn profiles and checking social media,” explained Chris Chancey, professional recruiter and founder of Amplio Recruiting.
There are some pros and cons to DIY background checks.
You can make credential validation easier by asking candidates to bring proof to their interviews. “A useful method of making this process more efficient is to ask candidates to bring proof of their credentials to their interview,” advised Steve Pritchard, an HR consultant and founder of the It Works Media agency. “This way, rather than doing the research yourself, you can verify their qualifications at the interview. Validating credentials in this way shouldn’t cost anything other than time and [human resources].”
“DIY verification tends to only scratch the surface,” Chancey explained. “Employers can easily miss subtle discrepancies in a job candidate’s resume and cover letter and therefore make a poor hiring decision.”
Background check services are handy when employers don’t want to verify candidates themselves or feel a professional third party would better handle it. The best background check services screen candidates, provide background check reports for the employer’s review and help employers avoid hiring horror stories. Background checks generally review criminal history at the federal and state levels and verify past employment and educational attainment.
“Manual verification of job candidates, especially in high-volume situations, may be impractical,” Chancey noted. “For best results, employers should consider partnering with a reliable background screening vendor. Look for a vendor whose screening platform is easy to use and takes out the hassle of verifying multiple candidates, integrates with other HR systems, such as the applicant tracking system, and whose capabilities can be customized to the needs of your organization.”
There are some pros and cons to background check services.
Background check investigations go even deeper than a typical background check service. According to Gerstman, these investigations include any known aliases of the candidate in question, all their past addresses and searches of government databases at all levels. These investigations also include a review of the assets and properties a candidate owns, media reports regarding companies they’ve worked for, and a deep dive into their education.
“For executives, there are a number of research firms that will take the time to have an analyst focus on that [candidate],” Gerstman said. “A real human or team of humans will go beyond Google and private databases … to look at all possible controversies the candidate has been in in the public domain.”
There are some pros and cons to background check investigations.
“When you’re looking at just a typical employee versus one of the C-suite executives, there’s a much higher risk associated with the executive,” Gerstman said. “Not only do they make considerably more money, but they’re high-profile and often in the media. So, the initial investment of background research into a C-suite executive should be seen as a smart strategic move.”
If you discover an employee lied or has an unsuitable background, you can rescind the job offer. However, you should consult an attorney to ensure you’re not opening the business to potential litigation.
Hiring mistakes can have an outsized impact on a company’s bottom line. Poor customer service, bad press and even legal action can result from hiring the wrong person, especially if their role interacts with sensitive information or high-profile customers.
Background checks and investigations have many levels and customization options. You can complete them internally without special training, use highly skilled and expensive external vendors, or work with a combination of resources.
Business owners and HR directors must consider the risk of damage or ruin to a company if a job candidate ends up being a liar and bad hire – and they could have prevented it.
Leslie Pankowski contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.