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Effective Pre-Employment Background Screening

In today’s competitive economic environment, firms cannot afford to be side-tracked by employee problems such as workplace violence, theft, false resumes, embezzlement, harassment or trumped-up injury claims. Employers have increasingly turned to pre-employment screening as a critical risk-management tool to try to avid hiring problem employees in the first place.

At the same time, companies are becoming more cost conscious as well. Despite the obvious benefits of pre-employment screening, management often expects security and human resources professionals to produce more results with fewer resources. The challenge facing security and human resources professionals is finding ways to implement an effective pre-employment screening program that is also cost-effective.

Such a program has four goals:

– First, the program must demonstrate that an employer utilizes due diligence in hiring. That means that an employer takes reasonable steps to determine a job applicant is fit for the job. This can protect an employer from claims of “negligent hiring.”

– Second, effective screening obtains factual information about a candidate, to supplement the impressions obtained from an interview alone. It is also a valuable tool for judging the accuracy of a candidate’s resume.

– Third, effective pre-employment serves to discourage applicants with something to hide. An applicant with serious criminal convictions is less likely to apply at a firm that announces it does pre-employment background checks. Employment

– Finally, a background-screening program should encourage applicants to be very honest in their applications and interviews. Since applicants are told there is a background check, they have a motivation to reveal information about themselves they feel may be uncovered with a check.

Many firms view pre-employment screening as a process that starts after an applicant has been selected by a hiring manager or department, and the name is submitted to security or human resources for a background report. Depending upon the employer, it is either outsourced to a background company or investigated internally through corporate security. In a typical screening program the emphasis is on checking for criminal records, as well as other background searches that are commonly available.

An effective background-screening program, however, is much more then just checking criminal records after a candidate has been selected. In fact, an effective background screening program starts even before the first resume is received or the first interview is conducted. It requires a company-wide commitment to a safe hiring by everyone involved with hiring. Recruiters, hiring mangers and interviewers must understand safe hiring practices are not something someone else takes care of after they make a hiring decision. It is part of their responsibilities as well.

The following steps can increase the effectiveness of a screening program. However, they all take place before a hiring decision is made and before a background report is requested. They also take relatively little time and money compared to the benefits a firm receives.

These nine steps rely upon two vital factors. First, they utilize multiple and overlapping tools that approach the task from different directions. There is no one screening tool that all by itself guarantees an effective screening program. Second, they require the department in charge of background screening to recruit and educate everyone in the hiring process to become involved in safe hiring, starting with the person who places ads in the newspaper.

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