28 Oct Hire someone you know: Five Recommended Background Checks on Potential Employees
There have often been comparisons, rightly or wrongly, to hiring employees and finding dates.
Both require a certain mutual positive chemistry, shared interests and alignment of goals. Many can result in long-term relationships. But whereas it can be a bit touchy to run a criminal background search, do a credit check and interview references on a date, it might well be best business practices before sharing computer passwords with your next employee.
An applicant can look great on paper and sound fantastic in an interview without ever tipping off that they have a less than stellar past. Some of that might not be a cause for concern – after all, do you really want to hold against someone an arrest for a student protest from decades before?
But people are aware of the stakes when they are applying for a job, and can selectively forget to mention criminal histories and financial difficulties that can take them out of the running. It is also not unusual for people to get “creative about their educational or professional pasts – a correspondence course gets reinvented into a four year degree, a summer internship is elongated into a two year role.
Whether it is truly misleading or just poor judgment, it can be an important step in your hiring process to ensure that you have independently researched your potential employee. In fact three-quarters of small businesses now conduct background checks.
These recommended background checks could help you protect yourself, your business, and your clients:
Financial checks. If you are hiring someone who will be dealing with financial data on a regular basis, you may want to know what their own history with money is, and many banking institutions even make such checks mandatory. You can easily run a credit check on anyone (you will need their consent and social security number to do so) and get up their credit score as well as up to seven years of history on a person’s credit card payments, total debt, court judgments and liens.
If you hire an agency, they can do additional checks such as civil court records and bankruptcies to get additional details that might not be available in a standard credit check. Keep in mind that there are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and the information (and score) may vary from one agency to another.
Criminal records. Checking someone’s criminal history is one of the most common employer background checks, for obvious reasons.
[bctt tweet=”Criminal record checks can be especially important for jobs that involve vulnerable client bases such as children, the sick and the elderly.”]
What can complicate things is that the records may or may not be accessible electronically, the amount of information available varies by jurisdiction, and because the U.S. has two court systems – federal and state – you need to check both systems in each state where the person has lived. Background screening companies can help advise the right strategy for uncovering information, including specific resources, from national sex offender databases to terrorist watch lists.
Identity checks. Put simply, you may want to confirm that someone is who they say the are. The easiest way is with a Social Security number validation check, which will confirm the person’s legal name, prior names (including maiden name), nicknames and aliases. It also will provide an address history for the person and can confirm the person’s legal right to work in the United States.
Educational and professional credentials. You may not need a Harvard grad for your open position, but if they claim to be, you can find out for sure. And if you are unfamiliar with a less well-known institution, you can confirm if that school is accredited. If you are hiring individuals who need a license to perform their work (plumbers and electricians, accountants and lawyers), you can get verification from the appropriate professional board to make sure they have the right credentials and are in good standing with the issuing body.
International investigations. All of the above categories can be more complicated when you are dealing with candidates who are applying from abroad or have spent a great deal of time outside of the country. But there are agencies that can get translations of diplomas, work with local governments to access court records and perform reference checks in the native language. As it is becoming more and more useful to have a global presence and representatives of local geographies, it is more important than ever to be able to hire with confidence even beyond the reach of U.S. personal records.
Hire who you want – just know who you are hiring.
These recommended background checks can be accomplished by most major providers in as few as a couple of days to no more than a week, so making this part of your hiring procedure doesn’t have to slow you down. And if there is something uncovered, you do not have to turn away a good candidate (and in some situations, be careful not to discriminate unlawfully based on the results, your legal counsel can advise you on this). But at least you can move forward fully informed, with more information than on an average date.