The Do’s and Don’ts when Checking out a Potential Employee

Once upon a time, the only way in which an employer would check out a candidate would be via their CV. Some might go as far as contacting the referees that they had listed on said document – but on the whole the process was quite simple.

It would be fair to say that this is a process which has turned on its head over recent years. We’re now in the age of the employee background check and more and more companies are tapping into this approach in a bid to get the lowdown on their potential recruits.

However, there are ways and means to do this. We will now take a look at some of the key do’s and don’ts, to help you along your way and ensure you keep on the right side of the law.

DO – Get written authorization

This is something of a grey area, and can be separated into two points. For example, if you were to conduct a background check yourself (including viewing an arrest record and all other relevant information) you don’t legally have to inform the candidate. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t; most suggest that you still inform them of your check just to keep the process transparent.

However, there are some legal requirements regarding this second point. If you are engaging a third-party to perform the checks on your behalf, this is where you have to inform the applicant. Not only this, but you also have to obtain written authorization from them.

DO – Treat everyone the same

Again, we could split this next point into two parts. The first involves discrimination, and it should go without saying that you shouldn’t just conduct a background check on one person and not another – for something that’s related to their race, color or anything else along those lines.

You should also bear this in mind for the purpose of keeping a fair process though. In other words, you might not have any intention of discriminating against candidates, but the manner in which you conduct a background check might do this. For example, you might conduct a background check at the first stage of the process for one candidate, and the final stage for another. This can create an imbalance – and force the decision one way or another.

DON’T – Hide any decisions made on a background report

If you have conducted a background report, and have decided to base your hiring decision on this, you can’t keep this to yourself. The law states that you must pass on the information to the candidate themselves; detailing a copy of the report and also providing them enough time to respond.

Unfortunately, this can develop into something of a minefield. Depending on the state that you reside in, the laws can be different and this means that you might have to provide even more information to candidates after you have based your decision on one of these reports.

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