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Create a Better Hiring Standard

Pre-employment Screening and Background Checks

Create a Better Hiring Standard

There's little doubt we live in a more complicated world than we did just five years ago. And headline news reminds us that the risks we face can all too easily permeate the workplace. Many incidents have been caused by uninformed and negligent hiring, most of which could be avoided if companies just adopt a few common sense practices.

An important way for employers to reduce hiring risks and costs is by choosing the right employee first. An effective pre-employee screening practice helps employers to make the right hiring decisions, benefiting both employer and employee alike in the long run.

Why use employee-screening services?

Professional pre-employment screening can provide the following benefits to an organization:

  • Increased Productivity

    Pre employment screening helps to decrease turnover. It also promotes a safer workplace by excluding candidates with serious offenses. Consequently, employee screening can lead to a more efficient and productive workforce.

  • Decreased Liability

    Developing solid pre employment screening policies and engaging in employee screening can show that the employer has exercised due diligence in the hiring process, helping to avoid negligent hiring lawsuits.

  • Reduced Workplace Violence

    Your employees want to feel safe on the job. Employee background checks and other pre employment screening tools can help weed out applicants with a violent past, decreasing the threat of a violent incident in the workplace.

  • Preventing Fraud and Theft

    Pre employment screening prevents resume fraud by verifying the applicants' previous education and employment history. Additionally, pre employment screening can identify prospective employees with a history of theft or embezzlement and eliminate them from the hiring process.

Does it delay hiring?

No. Background screening is normally done in just 48 to 72 hours. Most of the information needed is not only stored in databases but can also be obtained by going to CPIC, courthouses or calling up past employers or schools. Occasionally there can be delays that are out of anyone's control, such as previous employers who will not return calls, schools that are closed for vacation, or a court clerk who needs to retrieve a record from storage.

Does it invade privacy?

No. Employers can find out about only those things that an applicant has done in his "public" life. For example, checking CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) and court records for criminal convictions or calling past employers or schools does not invade a zone of personal privacy, as long as the proper consent has been given by the potential candidate. Employers are looking only at information that is a valid and non-discriminatory predictor of future job performance. To maintain privacy, most background firms have Internet systems with secured Web sites. Employers should also take steps to maintain confidentiality within their organization; such has keeping reports in a separate file from the personnel files.

Dealing with privacy concerns

This need for background checks comes at the same time governments are enforcing strict privacy legislation that controls the collection, storage and disclosure of personal information. Employers have an absolute right to conduct lawful pre-employment screening in order to hire the best-qualified candidates. Few applicants are surprised when told they will have to agree to a background check, although they may not yet appreciate the rationale behind it.

The key is informed consent. Depending on what your background check includes,
once an offer of employment is given, the applicant will have to sign a consent form and provide personal identifiers including complete name, a minimum of five years' address history, and a date of birth. Employers should tell job candidates early in the process that they require a background check if the candidate is successful in moving on through the interview process. Many who are not comfortable with it or who have something to hide will self-select out and move on to the increasingly difficult task of locating a company whose screening policies are less stringent. A proper explanation for the reasons a background check is required will help to ease any concerns most applicants have.

Both employers and applicants have learned that pre-employment screening is an absolute necessity in today's business world. More importantly, they've learned due diligence in hiring is a way to keep firms safe and profitable in these difficult times.


Tim Hardie is the president of Hire Performance Inc. a Canadian background screening company located in Toronto.