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The Importance of Conducting Background Checks in Recruitment

“Never judge a book by its cover.” That’s a common saying that’s been around for many generations. In terms of recruitment, it means something very unique. When it comes to selecting the best candidates to work for your business, going deeper than just face value should be a routine practice.

Uncover the Truth with Background Checks

First and foremost, in a more competitive job market, individuals are more apt to embellish or hide certain aspects of their histories in order to appear more attractive to recruiters. While some of these actions are fairly obvious to the trained recruiter, not all will be easy to spot until the background check takes place. A background check should include all of these elements:

  1. Work history and educational verification prior to interviews taking place

  2. Drug test conducted by a third-party administrator before a formal job offer made

  3. Criminal background check to include the required level of clearance (civilian vs. government)

Another element of a recruiting background check that may not have occurred to you is a check of the potential employee’s driving record. This information is extremely important if the position requires regular driving or use of a company vehicle, but even if it doesn’t, it can be to your benefit to investigate.

You may be surprised at what you find. Someone who has had frequent instances of driving irresponsibly may not be someone you want to have at your company, especially if there’s occasional driving involved with the job. The clearer a picture you can get of someone you’re considering hiring, the better.

Why the Background Check is Important

Fortunately, background screening and criminal background checks are available to recruiters and human resources professionals. Employers today have the right to learn more about the candidates they are about to commit to a legal relationship with. They also have the right to ensure that a potential new hire does not have anything lurking in their past that could potentially harm the business or create a safety hazard for clients and other employees.

According to the most recent figures from by the Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistic Workplace Violence, 1993-2009,as many as 572,000 non-fatal crimes occurred in the American workplace in a single year. These figures are staggering considering a majority of the victims who’s assailants were other employees and acquaintances. Yet, in many of these cases, the violence could have been prevented simply by conducting background checks to determine if any potential new hires had criminal records or other factors that would create a dangerous work environment.

More Reasons for Using Background Checks in Recruiting

There are some additional reasons why background checks should always be a required part of the recruitment process.

Background checks can be a valuable tool for selecting the right candidate fit every time. When used consistently, this simple step can eliminate many future problems for the company. As a recruiter, it’s vital to ensuring that a candidate meets the full requirements of each assignment and that the return on investment will be a good one for the client receiving the candidate.

Why is this important, from a recruitment standpoint? For one, your candidate will be thoroughly screened to ensure that all the experience and credentials listed are accurate for the needs of each job order. Second, you’ll be able to confidently present your candidate to the HR manager and be able to negotiate more effectively because you will know your candidate is who he or she is representing.

Ways Recruiters Can Conduct Background Checks

Whatever your policy is for conducting an employment background check, you want to make sure that policy is clear and that you apply it consistently. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re appearing to show favoritism toward a particular candidate or seeming to reject a candidate for a reason — other than insufficient suitability for the position — that’s not supported by the background check.

If you do find something negative on a background check during the recruiting process, you may want to implement a policy of having a conversation with the candidate about what you find. It’s possible that they have a reasonable explanation that mitigates the circumstances of the issue or that the red flag on the employment background check is due to a clerical error somewhere along the line. This situation can happen, and it would be a shame to lose a qualified candidate for a negative background check issue that’s a mistake or has a plausible explanation.

Again, you’re not trying to find loopholes to protect desirable candidates, but you generally want to be looking for a pattern of unwanted behavior. A single mistake that has a rational explanation and is not likely to be repeated is usually not a good reason to give up an otherwise qualified candidate.

Several possible ways to conduct background checks are to use a third-party service or a background screening software to augment your current recruitment process. This can help make the criminal and drug screen more efficient while you focus on the work history and educational verification. In some cases, your talent management software will include the feature to run a background screen with the proper legalese to get permission from each candidate. Alternatively, you can ask candidates to submit to a criminal background and drug screen at their own cost, to be reimbursed upon successful passing and employment.

Using a third-party company for background checks, as opposed to having your full time recruiters or your contract recruiters do them, also has the benefit of ensuring consistency and eliminating bias when it comes to verifying new potential hires. The background check company has nothing invested in whether or not you hire a certain candidate for your company. Their only goal is to make sure you know everything you need to know to determine whether or not an individual is a risk to hire. You can incorporate their results into your decision-making process with confidence.

Conducting background checks are not just an option anymore in recruitment – they are a necessary part of being a responsible recruiter who wants to provide the very best candidate to each client every time.

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