Employment screening background checks have become a mission critical task to ensure employers avoid the legal and financial nightmare of hiring employees who are unfit, unqualified, dangerous, or dishonest. However, some employers have misconceptions concerning background checks.  Here are eight simple truths every business, both large and small, should know about employment screening background checks.

  • Truth #1.  “Gut instincts” are not enough: It does not matter how good an employer is at interviewing, “gut instincts” are rarely enough to base a hiring decision on. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that people are not nearly as good at detecting liars as they think.  The old phrase, “Trust but Verify,” applies when hiring for a sensitive position.
  • Truth #2.  The higher the risk, the more due diligence is needed: A higher degree of due diligence is needed when hiring someone to work with vulnerable people such as children, the aged, and individuals with special needs.  For example, infirmed individuals in a home are vulnerable and require a higher duty of care in selecting workers.
  • Truth #3.  Don’t let background checks give a false sense of security: The term “background check” all by itself is practically meaningless, and can include anything from an in-depth private investigation to a near worthless instant online database search. Employers need to know what type of background check was done and the qualifications of the firm that performed the background check. They should look for a background check provider accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®).
  • Truth #4.  Background checks are not perfect: Even the FBI and the CIA do not always get background checks right. Although mistakes are uncommon, there are technical reasons why a person can come up “Clear” when in fact they have a criminal record. The crime may have been committed in a county not searched, or the applicant may have used an alias name. Also, a person that has never been convicted before may still commit a crime.
  • Truth #5. Stay away from cheap online databases: There are numerous web sites that claim to give online background checks, but these “online” sites have practically no value in many states.  They are only useful to background check firms as another research tool. Most of these online sites do not even bother to inform employers of their legal obligations under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of informationwhich for employment screening background checks.
  • Truth #6. The gold standard of background checks is the county court level search: Unless authorized by law to use LiveScan for fingerprints, the only in way in some states for employers to check a criminal report is to search at the county court level for each county where a person has lived, worked, or attended school. The gold standard of background checks is searching by county courts, supplemented by other searches. Anything short of that may be useless.
  • Truth #7. Remember the legal stuff: Employers performing background checks must sign a certification with the background screening firm they use and have their job applicants sign a Release and Disclosure form. A background screening firm will provide those documents.  This Release and Disclosure form is taken very seriously in most U.S. states. An alternative is to have a person obtain their own background check report from a company that provides “self” background checks for consumers.
  • Truth #8.  A background check is not enough all by itself: No matter how well done, a background check is not enough all by itself. In fact, the most effective tools to keep a business safe are usually free. They include the employment application, job interview, and past employment verification process. If employers do those three things well, the chances of hiring a bad employee are greatly reduced.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help both employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen.  For more information about background checks, visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) website at https://www.esrcheck.com. For more information about “self” background checks from MyESRcheck.com, visit http://www.myESRcheck.com.