July 26th, 2017 | Sterling

How to Choose the Right Candidate Background Checks for Your Organisation

It’s a basic fact; background screening is complicated. Deciding which type of background screening check an employer needs to run to find the best candidate can often seem like a daunting task. In reality, background screening helps to ensure that the right people are in the right role. From employment verification to criminal record checks, it’s a proactive way to add a layer of risk mitigation into a company’s hiring process.

Sterling’ Tim Stokes and Dinah Davies presented a webinar, “How to Choose the Right Candidate Background Checks for Your Organisation” to share the fundamentals of what makes a good background screening programme and review some of the key check types and the compliance considerations for each.

Why Should You Conduct Background Checks?

Background screening matters because it protects an organisation’s property, assets, reputation, brand and ultimately its biggest asset, the people. Our 2016 Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report found that 40% of our survey respondents still do not conduct background screening. For those that do screen, the number one reason for conducting background screening checks is improving or meeting regulatory compliance (67%) followed by improving the quality of hires (59%), company reputation (53%) and enhanced workplace safety and security (50%).

Types of Background Screening Checks

Each organisation is unique and requires unique solutions for the hiring process to allow companies to hire with confidence. There are many types of background screening checks from criminal record checks to education and employment verifications to social media screening. Each type of check has specific practical considerations and compliance matters that must be followed. Sterling has many other types of checks that could be important components of the hiring process. Below are just a few samples of the background screening checks that are available:

  • Criminal Record Checks: The criminal record check is the most common background check. There are three different levels of criminal record checks available to employers: A Basic Disclosure, A Standard Disclosure or an Enhanced Disclosure. The check type will depend on the specific role in question, but ultimately will either be processed via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) formerly CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) and ISA (Independent Safe Guarding Authority), Disclosure Scotland or AccessNI.
  • Credit Checks: Implementing credit enquiries as part of a screening process can provide employers with a valuable indication of a candidate’s sense of responsibility and financial track record. In addition to providing proof of identity (matching against multiple sources), a credit enquiry can disclose any County Court Judgments, bankruptcies, administration orders, and insolvencies present on an individual’s credit file. As with all other pre-employment background checks, informed consent is essential in advance of any credit enquiry.
  • Social Media Checks: Social media screening is the process of capturing any activity on the internet relating to an applicant that is potentially incriminating. Vetting social media profiles can provide unique insight about a candidate and may reveal potentially unlawful, violent, racist, intolerant and sexually explicit behaviours that are unlikely to show up during the interview process. There are also more positive characteristics about a candidate that may be revealed in social media posts including candidate goals, cultural fit and even written communication skills.
  • Employment Verifications: Employment and activity verifications ensure the accuracy of the employment and activity information listed on a job application and/or CV. A reliable third-party screening provider will collect factual information about your candidate’s work history direct from the source (normally the Human Resources and Payroll departments) and compare information on previous positions held, dates of employment and reasons for leaving. By cross-referencing this with details provided by a candidate, employers will obtain an invaluable view of their work experience and honesty.
  • Education and Credentials Verification: Educations and credential verification validate university degrees, technical training, secondary school qualifications and specific certifications pertaining to a job. This check is vital because it could be the only true indication of an applicant’s knowledge of a skill or understanding about a particular role.

Creating a Background Screening Policy

Documenting your company’s processes for requesting, receiving and evaluating background checks will greatly improve your chances of successfully defending your programme. Having a screening policy can be an essential part of the background check process, but is especially important now with the looming impact of the GDPR with its changes about how personal data can be accessed and handled. To create a background screening policy, here are a few things that need to be considered:

  • Determine which types and levels of employee will be subject to a background check and why
  • Determine when you will conduct background checks
  • Explain the process for how the background checks will be performed and reviewed
  • Include a process to protect the privacy and confidentiality of information that is included in background forms and reports
  • Include information stating the legitimate interest your organisation has in conducting background checks, in accordance with data protection law

A background screening policy is a living and breathing document that needs to be reviewed as data privacy or anti-discrimination laws change. The policy should be reviewed on a year basis, if not more, to allow for edits and updates. Every employer and every role is different, so the checks that make up a screening programme will vary. It is recommended that employers speak to a screening vendor directly for guidance as well as legal counsel. Using a third party provider will not only mean that you can benefit from their expertise when setting up a robust programme, but also ensure your hiring decisions are more reliable, consistent and – thanks to the more efficient turnaround times – result in a faster time to hire.

To learn more about how to choose the right background screening checks for your organisation’s needs access the on-demand version of the webinar.

Please note: Sterling is not a law firm. The material available in this publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We encourage you to consult with your legal counsel to obtain a legal opinion specific to your needs.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.