Globalizing your company may lead to future success, however, expanding your global workforce will likely expose you to additional risk. Workplace security can be easily disrupted by just a single bad hire that can cost your company significantly. To maintain the tight controls you have established domestically, it’s critical that your established employment screening standards are also applied to your global offices.
Because each country’s available information and applicable regulations vary greatly, international pre-employment screening would be a daunting challenge to undertake without professional help. In order to help you achieve global background screening success, here are three international screening musts that you will want to ensure you or your screening partner follow:
1. Know the Laws and Regulations
Each country has its own laws and processes to govern the information that can legally be obtained, how it can be transmitted and how it can be used. Generally, these regulations are designed to protect the applicant’s personal privacy. For example, an employee who works in Canada is covered by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and in the United States, employees are covered by its counterpart, the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
There are also individual provincial or state regulations. Conversely, a person working in the Tokyo office of a Canadian-based company is covered by Japanese privacy laws which limit the collection and dissemination of personal information. In Hong Kong and across Europe, third parties, including employers, may not request a criminal history from the police authorities, but applicants may secure one themselves.
Even in countries where criminal checking is permitted, the ways in which data is stored can vary. Some countries store and report data locally, others by province or state, and yet others nationally. And information required to retrieve the data comes with its own nuances.
For example, records in Latin America may be filed based on the mother’s maiden name as the unique identifier; and in Asia Pacific it is important to recognize the impact of first name/surname combinations on storage. For efficient global screening, HR professionals need a partner who understands the country-to-country requirements so as to better inform applicants and internal stakeholders.
2. Be Familiar with the Culture
Just as important as laws governing employment screening, there is also the language, culture and political environment to regard. A good example of how local context comes into play is best illustrated by a verification we performed in a country that had recently had a change of government.
When the applicant’s former supervisor was contacted, he said he didn’t know the applicant and that he’d never worked for the company. The supervisor then contacted the applicant and told him: “A company called asking about you, but don’t worry, I told them I didn’t know you and that you never worked for us.” The supervisor was simply apprehensive of any kind of investigation because of the practices of the former government. The applicant was able to resolve the issue, but the situation indicates the importance of understanding the local context when conducting international background screenings.
On the flip side, building relationships can yield great benefits for the background screening program. We recently conducted a verification in Brazil where the applicant claimed to hold an MBA from a prestigious university that we had contacted in the past. Not only did the registrar verify that the degree was false, he called the police to wage a complaint against the applicant.
3. Get High Tech AND High Touch
While the demands of international employment screening are complex, the process is made more accessible and cost-effective by modern technology. Many international screening resources, including in-country research experts and databases, can be accessed via the Internet through an international screening provider.
Technology is also improving background screening program efficiency and control as web-based employment screening solutions are integrated with leading applicant tracking systems so that hiring professionals can ensure consistent program implementation. Although there can be differences in searches from country to country, employers can leverage their screening technology to assure policies and reporting procedures remain as consistent as possible on a global basis.
As important as the technology is, however, it can never replace the value of local experts. An in-country provider is most familiar with local laws, culture and research procedures and can best navigate the local system. They are also likely to engender trust in local officials and offices. For example, one candidate claimed an engineering degree from an Indian university, but the local screener recognized the degree he provided was forged. Through his contacts at the University, the screener learned that the candidate failed all his engineering courses.
Combining this hands-on knowledge with a global platform, technology can bring country experts into the screening program without losing the value of consistency, audit and control. And all together, these capabilities are moving global employment screening from scary to standard.
Free Report: HireRight 2011 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report
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