Need a Background Check? A Hiring Manager's New Year's Resolutions

3 min read
Fri, Jan 02, 2015


It's a new year and hiring managers continue to carry most of the responsibility when it comes to the employee selection process. As a critical member of the human resources team at an organization, hiring managers see employment through from the resume and phone interview phases to background checks and an eventual hiring decision. Here are a few things every hiring manager should keep in mind when getting a background check.

Background Check Process: Steps to Take

James Madison, one of America's founding fathers, once wrote, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." The same underlying principle applies to background checks - if every applicant was completely truthful about his or her credentials, background checks would be far less necessary. 

As it stands, background checks are a necessary component of a hiring manager's job and greatly inform the hiring process. Background checks should provide some aspects of the applicant's history and the general veracity of the claims made on his application. Let's look at some steps that every organization needs to have in place to conduct a proper background check. 

Setting a Background Check Policy 

All HR departments need to establish a background check policy upfront before proceeding and making hiring decisions. This means, for instance, deciding to give background checks to all contractors and part-time employees. 

The type, depth and frequency of background checks should be related to the responsibility of the job position. As a general rule of thumb: the more responsibility and risk to the company a position entails, the more probing a background checks needs to be. 

Select a Third-Party Background Check Agency 

Hiring managers should choose a background check agency that is approved by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. This sets a high bar from the outset and ensures that all information about an applicant's criminal history is authentic and verified by up-to-date court records. 

Background check agencies should have Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings that you can use to make informed decisions about the quality of the background check. Also make sure that the background check agency works in alliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates hiring, termination and reassignment policies and is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission. The FCRA says, in part, that hiring managers must tell the applicant that the consumer report (i.e., background check) will be used for hiring decisions. You should also get written permission from the applicant to search his or her criminal and credit history. 

See Also: How to Obtain Applicant Consent and Authorization to a Background Check

Create a Decision Matrix 

The type of background checks required to make a hiring decision depends on the position of employment. Even still, a basic background check will require a search of criminal records on the applicant. In order to avoid having a deny all / blanket deny policy for arrests and convictions, a best practice for a hiring manager is to have a decision matrix that follows guidelines put forth by the EEOC. Every organization's needs and requirements may vary. Your third party background screening company should have FCRA certified staff to help create this document for your hiring process. Click here to download our free background check decision matrix.

Screen for Relevant Information 

A hiring manager should make sure that all references outlined in the application are authentic. A final scan to ensure that an applicant's social security number, credit history and civil record checks out is essential. In order to receive the background screening information efficiently, a hiring manager should make sure that the information gathered during the application process is complete and correct to the best of their knowledge. If any information is missing or incomplete, the background check could be delayed.

As a rule of thumb, again, the depth of the background check should be related to the risk to the company while remaining faithful to FCRA regulations and the organization's background check policy. The hiring manager must follow the rules in order to not only protect their employer and current employees, but also to feel more confident about the hiring decision. 

If you need assistance creating or modifying your background screening policy, VeriFirst can help. 



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