Use a Comprehensive Check - Screening Potential Employees

by Joe Killinger

A background check should be comprehensive and cover all the necessary elements to make an informed decision about hiring. Comprehensive checks should include a criminal history, a reference and credential check, a driving record and if necessary a credit and identity check. Having a full picture of the individual you are wanting to hire can help considerably in the decision-making process. Be sure to follow-up with all references and understand that it may take multiple contacts (calls or emails) to get a response, be persistent but nice.

Ideally, the background check can help reveal whether or not a person told the truth (i) to questions on an employment application, including whether they have a criminal record, and (ii) in what they stated on their resume. Depending on the employer’s preferences and objectives, the background check can be as basic as checking county criminal records, or as comprehensive as also checking Federal criminal records and motor vehicle records, verifying past employment and education, conducting reference checks, and drug testing. In our experience, and on average, approximately 10% of the time a Felony or Misdemeanor criminal record will be reported on an applicant’s background check report. (In some cases the employer may determine the record(s) warrant denying the applicant employment, while in other cases the employer may, e.g., determine the record(s) not to be sufficiently relevant to the position and thus not in themselves a basis for denying the applicant employment.) With respect to non-criminal searches, the background check may, e.g., reveal discrepancies between actual and reported dates of employment, job titles, and educational degrees.

You want a background check that gives the best results. This depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which includes the goals and budget of the employer (e.g., search speed vs. breadth/depth, budget, etc.). Criminal record searches generally are at the foundation of an employment background check – due in substantial part to protect its workforce and prevent against negligent hire claims. Searching the county courthouses in the areas where the person has lived is an industry best practice. In addition, various database searches can be conducted to identify additional jurisdictions in which it may be advisable to search the applicable courthouse, and Federal level criminal record searches also can be performed. Beyond criminal records searches, additional screening options may include Motor Vehicle Records, Employment and Education Verification and drug testing.

The more thorough, the better off you can be.