8 Tips to Run a Background Check Before Hiring
As recruiters, we’ve all been there.
We find a candidate whose CV, cover letter, and recommendations are just what we’re expecting and what the position requires. We arrange an interview, prepare ourselves to impress the prospective employee with the benefits of working in our company, spend plenty of time getting everything ready... and within the first 5 minutes of the interview we understand that something doesn’t add up.
Our candidate can’t tell us what they studied at the mentioned school they apparently graduated from with honors, can’t explain what their job responsibilities were and how they handled them, and basically seem like a different person. Your day is ruined, the job position is still open, and time isn’t on your side.
How can you prevent this from happening again?
The answer is: with a pre-employment check before the interview. In this article, we’ll explain why a background check is a must for an in-house HR team and remote recruitment agency and how to run it without violating privacy.
So put that CV down for a moment and learn how you could be saving yourself a heap of wasted time and effort with just one small task.
What is a background check for employment?
A pre-employment background check is a set of checks in-house recruiters or a remote staffing agency carry out to see whether a particular candidate fits the position and the company. It includes tasks such as:
- Verifying the information in the candidate’s CV
- Asking about professional skills from former colleagues
- Confirming educational credentials
If that sounds like playing Sherlock, then it is, but it brings you a few important benefits too.
4 reasons to run a background check for employment
Since a background check is the only way to verify — or disprove — the claims a job seeker makes, its value is pretty obvious if you want to hire effectively. But that’s just one reason. What are the others?
To assess job competence
If you’re a fan of The Suits and other series, it’s clear that sometimes candidates lie to get to the interview. To be precise, 53% of applicants provide — ahem — less than accurate information about things such as their qualifications, professional achievements, and former workplaces. Doing a pre-employment background check will help you to assess if an applicant has all it takes to do the job. In the tech industry in particular, where project success depends on the people involved, this is the first point you need to check to decide whether to proceed or pass over.
To ensure workplace safety
The last thing you want is for your employees’ welfare, company’s assets, and reputation to get damaged because of an employee’s actions. As an employer, you guarantee that your workplace is safe, and if it turns out that this is not the case, you can face charges and lawsuits. For instance, if your employee creates a dangerous situation for someone else, that someone has the right to take you both to court.
To see if they’re honest
Our employers can teach us to work with a particular framework or software tool, but not how to be honest, and this quality is crucial for maintaining a favorable working atmosphere. If a resume or references check shows up fabrications, this is the time to stop pursuing the candidate further.
To be sure you’re making the right choice
Your candidate may be a valuable professional, but do they share your company’s values? Both these things are important if you want to ensure a long-term, easy, and result-oriented collaboration… and save yourself a lot of money in the process.
In summary, a background check is important. Still, before you go rushing for that deerstalker hat, you need a plan. Basically, you have to be very careful that your checking doesn’t turn into flat-out digging, with all the consequences that entails.
8 tips for running a healthy background check
These tips will help you do everything right.
Develop a policy
If you don’t have a background check policy reviewed by the lawyers, save yourself some trouble right now and get it done. Big names like Amazon and Wells Fargo reportedly spent over $375 million in the last decade settling litigation regarding privacy violations while conducting background checks. Let’s be honest: you don’t want to join them, which is why you have to develop a policy and have it reviewed by a competent lawyer.
Your background check policy should cover:
- Detailed procedures on how a check will be carried out
- A background check authorization form to get an applicant’s consent
- Detailed disclosure of who will be performing the checks and what data it will include
- Privacy policies
- Data usage policies
- The applicant’s agreement with the policy’s Terms and Conditions
Running background checks without the applicant’s consent equates to a violation of their privacy. Sending them a background check authorization form will both eliminate legal problems and send shadier candidates running for the hills. Job done.
Do a resume background check
Many inconsistencies will show up after careful study of a job seeker’s resume. There might be some misleading or controversial information. For instance, the applicant may mention that s/he worked with Google and Microsoft at the same time in various cities. This is an issue to clarify. Other possible red flags include irrelevant positions, gaps between jobs, colleges attended with no graduation information, and so on.
And a cover letter check, too
The best approach is to check both the CV and cover letter at the same time. Here’s why.
While a CV provides you with facts, the cover letter gives you an understanding of how the candidate measures up to your ideal applicant persona. There are a few things you can pick up on right away: if the applicant understands the relevance of certain skills for your job, and if they actually have the relevant experience. A cover letter full of general and cliché statements is a big hint that you could be dealing with a good fiction writer.
Always check references
References are a valuable source of information for understanding how the candidate works and what kind of person they are. If a candidate has given references from former colleagues or supervisors, don’t skimp on contacting them and asking the questions you’d like answered. This will give you a better overall picture and understanding of your potential employee.
Don’t forget an employment history background check
This step is essential for understanding if your candidate has relevant experience in the field. Dates on the resume and the actual working period may be suspiciously different. Noticing gaps during an employment history background check will also help you see whether the applicant’s knowledge is up-to-date. For a tech recruitment agency, it’s important to check that the candidate can start working right away.
Take time to run an education background check
The reason? To make sure that you hire a qualified engineer with a degree in Engineering, not Chemistry. Sure, having a degree is not always a sign of competency and you can hire a fantastic applicant without one, but checking whether someone has indeed attended that particular college will prove their honesty and integrity. Or disprove it.
Run online screening
You don’t need consent to search for what a person publishes online, so use it to see who your applicant is outside the job. Of course, you shouldn’t rely only on what you dig up and make up your mind based on a tweet. But if a person’s values or public opinions don’t match your company’s policies, that person probably isn’t a good match.
Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any job services where one’s resume can be posted — basically all the information channels that can get you additional insights or things you’d like to know. This search can also throw up potential references or topics you can talk about regarding the candidate’s professional experience.
The benefits of employee background checks
Do we need to say this again? Doing a pre-employment verification has benefits for both parties. It will help you:
- Avoid bad hires. You can never be 100% sure you’ve made a good choice, but doing a background check will eliminate the chance of having someone who can damage your atmosphere or reputation.
- Save time. You won’t need to spend hours of preparation on an interview that shouldn’t even take place.
- Conduct a better interview. Knowing more about your candidate means having more to talk or ask about. And the more information you’ll receive, the better understanding you’ll have.
- Hire the best applicant. The icing on the cake!
Hiring takes resources, time, and energy. Running a candidate background check will help to optimize your hiring process, give you better information before making a final decision, and up your chances of starting a great long-term relationship. Don’t forget to respect privacy rules and avoid making discriminatory decisions. By applying a healthy level of skepticism, analysis, respect, and legal compliance, you’ll be in a much better place to find the best talents for your company.
At MagicHire, of course, we’ll take the weight off your shoulders (and that deerstalker off your head) from the start. We carry out reference and background checks as a standard before we draw up a candidates’ list for you. Our remote job recruitment agency verifies all candidate claims and checks references from former employers and colleagues to find and hire only the best professionals for your company. Contact us to get the best employees on board starting today!