7 Actionable Background Screening Best Practices

Posted · Add Comment

Whether you are developing a new background screening program or need to review an existing one, employers can take immediate steps to help ensure an effective screening program with these seven best practices.

1. Get Buy-In

To gain support for background screening internally, educate key decision makers and stakeholders about the benefits of screening such as the ability to make intelligent and informed hiring decisions, safer workplaces and a more productive workforce.

By gaining support, you will be more likely to obtain resources to build an effective employment background screening program.

2. Put It In Writing

A written background screening policy can help an employer to enforce its screening standards across departments and with outside vendors. A policy can also help protect an employer from potential claims of discrimination.

3. Beyond Criminal Searches

Consider the benefits of additional types of background checks beyond criminal background checks. For example, verifying past employment and education history helps ensure the accuracy of information an applicant provided on a résumé or job application, while compliance database checks can help identify potential threats.

4. Tailor Your Program

Employers should review their background screening program to ensure that their policy uses risk-loaded screenings appropriate to the hiring level, and that the specific checks carried out are proportionate to the threat and confined to the requirements of the job.

As of the 2012 HireRight Benchmarking Report (the industry’s foremost study of employment background checking), 57 percent of employers use similar background checks for every worker. This could expose employers to potential claims of discrimination.

5. Create a Social Media Policy

While the use of social media for recruiting is widely considered a valuable tool, its use as a source of information for background screening poses risks. More than 20 percent of respondents to the Benchmarking Report use or plan to use social media for background screening.

To help prevent potential discrimination claims and other risks from using social media for screening, employers should create a policy that considers recent court decisions and legislation, as well as potential benefits and pitfalls of using social media for background screening.

6. Comply With Legal Responsibilities

Each country may have different requirements for how employers can conduct employment background checks, especially criminal background checks and credit checks.

To mitigate legal and compliance risks, get your legal team involved in developing a hiring policy. Know your legal and regulatory footprint for every location and type of screening, and put systems in place to help maintain compliance.

7. Reassess Regularly

With rapidly changing laws, regulations and technologies it is recommend that employers assess their programs through regular self-audits. To maintain compliant and effective background screening practices, involve your human resources, legal and executive teams in regular self-audits.

By reviewing these seven best practices, individuals involved with managing background screening programs will be able to quickly assess opportunities to create or enhance an employment screening program.


The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any statutes or laws cited in this article should be read in their entirety. If you or your customers have questions concerning compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations, we suggest that you address these directly with your legal department or outside counsel.

Comments are closed.