Background checks would be simpler if one all-encompassing database housed every piece of relevant information an employer needs to make an informed hiring decision. But, unfortunately, that resource does not exist.
Nor is there a standardized checklist an organization can follow to ensure its searches return all the information necessary to fully evaluate a given candidate. Too many factors are at play in each situation for that type of list to be effective.
However, there are some general considerations that can offer much-needed guidance as an organization contemplates a background check that includes criminal and other public records:
- Scope and depth should reflect nature of position. It’s fairly obvious that an executive would likely merit a more extensive search than a mail clerk, but what if such distinctions weren’t as clear?
To better determine what, where, and how far back to look during a background check, organizations should carefully consider criteria like:
- The level and profile of the position
- How much access the position has to assets, customers and data
- Potential effect on safety and security
- Financial/fiduciary responsibilities
- Timing. There can be a wide variance in how long it takes some sources, like county courts, to return search results, which is one way having an experienced employment screening provider by your side can help.Such a partner can help you decide what searches you should request to minimize the time required for a background check. In some instances, there may be alternate sources of data that provide faster results.
- Consistency across job levels. Another critical issue to keep in mind is that a background check should be consistent across similar positions.If you’re simultaneously recruiting multiple customer service representatives at the same level, for example, the scope and depth of the search should be the same for all applicants. This allows you to consider the same information across the board and helps protect against claims of discrimination and possible legal action.
- Legal and regulatory compliance. You should remember that a number of laws, regulations, and even guidance can affect how criminal and other public records are used as part of an employment background check.In 2012, for instance, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance regarding how it believes employers should use criminal record information to make hiring decisions. According to this guidance, employers should consider the nature, severity and how recently a crime was committed – as well as its relevance to the open position – before deciding not to hire an applicant.
This is why you’d be well-advised to engage with your legal counsel to better ensure your background screening program is compliant with applicable laws and regulations.
Free Report: Are You Getting Maximum Effectiveness From Your Public Records Checks?
With all the complexities of public record searches, how can employers make good decisions about the types of checks they should be conducting on job candidates? Find out by downloading:
Are You Getting Maximum Effectiveness From Your Public Records Checks?
The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and is not a substitute for and should not be construed as legal advice. HireRight does not warrant any statements in the HireRight Blog. Any statutes or laws cited herein should be read in their entirety. You should direct to your own experienced legal counsel questions involving your organization's compliance with or interpretation or application of laws or regulations and any additional legal requirements that may apply.
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