Nearly three quarters of employers run background screens on employment applicants. While it is assumed that employers are looking for criminal records, a Reddit thread about background checks uncovered plenty of other valuable and available information to determine if the applicant is a good fit. Those who fit well, perform better and stick around longer, reducing turnover costs and the risk of low morale.
Employers may be closely reviewing background check information to help improve or maintain a positive workplace culture.
How Background Checks Affect Workplace Culture
When qualifying candidates, employers usually have a job description as a place to start. A typical job description will focus on skills and experience but may not include the management expectations or expectations of the team they'll be working with. Typically adding certain language to your website and job descriptions will go a long way in attracting the best fitting talent. Best practices for qualifying an applicant that matches your corporate culture include:
- Adding soft skills and soft skill language to all job descriptions such as "collaborative", "self-aware", "accountable" and "respectful"
- Define positive company values and make them readily available for current and prospective employees
- Emphasize transparency, inclusiveness and teamwork in corporate vision
- Notify all candidates that they will be screened prior to hiring
Emphasize Honesty & Integrity
Other important factors to a positive workplace culture is honesty and integrity. The first impression of a job candidate is typically their resume. Statistics show that most people lie on their resume and the extent of those lies can determine the type of person you're hiring. If the lies are exaggerations or memory failures - such as wrong dates of employment or an embellished skill set - that may be easier to overlook. Some lies are extreme, however, and can be glaring red flags. Are they lying about their identity, education or criminal history? A basic background check serves as a lasso of truth to those candidates who cannot be honest when applying for a job at your organization.
During the job interview, the candidate may also reveal themselves. Do they seem uncomfortable or unsure about verifying the information on their resume? Will they consent and give authorization to a background check? Again, a background check can offer a deeper dive into the candidates employment history to determine if they're telling the truth about themselves.
Verify Employment History / Reference Checks
When verifying previous employment, there are some limitations to the information that you may receive. For instance, previous employers are not legally allowed to give details on job performance. They can ask if the candidate was promoted and if they are eligible for rehire. Hiring managers can also assess the culture of the previous employer to determine if the candidate left due to value differences. If the previous employer has closed shop, as referenced in the Reddit thread, it doesn't mean that employers will give up trying to verify someone worked there. Background check companies can get information from some database sources but they will also put feet on the ground to verify and double verify information about an applicant. Employers have a legal obligation to keep their staff and customers safe so they're relying on accurate data.
Ideally, the hiring manager will assess the motivation and values of the candidate throughout the hiring process. Interview questions and involving the team with which the candidate will be working is also helpful. Creating a positive workplace culture starts before the hiring process and can ensure long-term happy employees if done correctly.