Pre-Employment Screening

Every company that requires employees would be well advised to ensure they have a pre-employment screening process for every employee. Having a pre-employment screening process is a way for businesses to take appropriate measures to ensure their business and their bottom line are protected. If an employee comes into the business having satisfied all elements of the pre-employee screening process and background check, then the employer can initiate the employment process with a certain peace of mind.


1. Basic Background Check - Previous Employment and Skills Assessment

If you are an employer seeking a strong and effective candidate to fill an available position within your business, you need to perform some basic pre-employment screening to assess whether that candidate is even qualified for the position. One of the ways you can do this is through skills testing and assessment. Skills testing is a means the prospective employer uses to assess the individual candidate's direct knowledge of the industry, the field, or the tasks required to perform the job. Skills testing can involve anything from basic mathematics to customer service scenarios, and each skills testing assessment will be unique to the industry of the employer. Most skills testing assessments come in the form of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, or even small essay questions to gauge the applicant's ability to solve problems in real time. These assessments will give the prospective employer an adequate measure of the candidate's ability to perform job specific requirements.

If the candidate does not meet the standards of the skills testing assessment for that business, there is no need to continue pre-employment screening, as this candidate is unlikely to fit with the company or job requirements. If the candidate does however pass these assessments, the basic background check can begin and progress according to how the employer feels about the information that is gained. The first step in basic background check and pre-employment screening is to verify information from past employers of the candidate. This information would be dates of employment, position title, reason for leaving, compensation, and so on. This information will give the employer an adequate picture on the candidate's skill, honesty, and ability to manage issues such as attendance, behavior, and overall employee manageability.

2. Education Verification and Reference Check

The next items that undergo a standard employment screening process would be the verification of education items as well as a reference check. These items are useful in evaluating the integrity of an employee. Recent research estimates that as much as 1 in 3 job applications and resumes contain false assertions to the effect of education, and that over half a million Americans have purchased their academic credentials. By conducting simple education verification, you the employer can have peace of mind that the candidate in question has solid credentials, both academically and in terms of integrity.

A standard reference check is also useful information to the employer. One thing that must be kept in mind when conducting reference checks is that most candidates will only provide references where they know the information provided will be positive and glowing in their favor. It is important that prospective employers understand this when making the reference check, but that is not to say the reference check is not a useful tool. By conducting reference checks with people that have worked with the candidate in the past, you not only verify previous employment details, but you can also get a good feel about the personality behind the candidate by speaking directly with past co-workers or employers. Simply because it is expected that the reference check will be glowing does not negate its value and worth in an employment screening process.

3. Additional Pre-Employment Screening - Department of Motor Vehicle Reports and Social Security Number Trace

A lot of information can be obtained about an applicant through a search on the applicant's Department of Motor Vehicle report. With this report you can verify standard information such as date of birth, address, and license, but it will also provide other information for the employer. With this report you can discover if the applicant has restrictions on their license, has a history of substance abuse, or has a colored driving record. All these things will give the employer an idea on the integrity and ethics of the candidate. This report is essential for any business that will have the applicant driving for work purposes, or using a company vehicle.

A Social Security Number trace is becoming a very common method of pre-employment screening in the United States, and it is very cost effective as well. What the employer learns in a Social Security Number trace will more than likely simply verify the information the applicant has already provided. It can, however, provide more information to the employer if the candidate has a questionable past. The Social Security Number trace will contain the applicant's current and previous mailing addresses for verification. It will also give the employer information about the validity of the Social Security Number or reveal aliases or names of other people that have used that number. A Social Security Number trace is a means of information verification, as well as ensuring the number provided is a safe number for the employer to use.

4. Criminal Background Check

The criminal background check is one of the most important elements of the pre-employment screening process. This process will protect the employer from criminal activity, as well as protect the employer from being sued for any illegal acts the employee may conduct. It is most beneficial to check records of criminal convictions, and compare this information with information the applicant has provided. It is not illegal to ask an applicant if they have been convicted of a criminal charge, and the criminal background check will verify the applicant's honesty and integrity, or lack thereof.

The criminal background check is a useful tool in understanding the character of the applicant, any history of violent tendencies, and an overall suitability for the position in question. This is good information to have, as past behavior is often a strong indicator of future behavior. You can obtain the criminal background check information by mail, fax, or online, or in person through the county's Clerk of Court criminal records department.

For positions that are high ranked or of executive stature, a criminal background check is critical. In fact, it is even a good idea to perform a federal criminal background check on the individual. A Federal Crime Repository background check will help employers identify criminal convictions on a number of charges such as immigration violations, tax law and securities violations, terrorism, embezzlement, or interstate drug and/or civil rights violations. Do not make the mistake of assuming that simply because the applicant is educated and qualified for a high profile position that their past is clean. Prove it to yourself before you place them on the payroll.

5. Pre-Employment Credit Check

A pre-employment credit check is becoming a very standard method of employment screening for many businesses. This type of pre-employment screening is known as a PEER report and is issued by all the credit reporting agencies. A PEER report is very similar to a report issued for consumer credit purposes and will provide valuable information to the employer. The employer will find information on the applicant's credit history, any unsecured or secured loan histories, credit card and revolving credit information, and payment histories.

The PEER report will also provide information obtained from public resources such as liens, bankruptcies, or judgments on the applicant. The prospective employer can use information from the PEER report to assess the candidate's fiscal responsibility, as well as any pressures they may have financially. It is the obligation of the employer to notify the candidate that a PEER report will be obtained and to get consent. Failure to give consent for this report will in itself be a source of information for the employer, and also the time of consent can be used as an assessment of integrity.

6. Pre-Employee Screening with Personality Testing

While personality testing is not necessarily a requirement or gold standard in the pre-employment screening process, it can certainly provide the employer with valuable information about the prospective candidate. Over 40% of all Fortune 100 companies are making personality testing a standard requirement in the pre-screening process, and these assessments definitely are valuable sources of information for the company. Personality testing will give the employer information on the candidate's history of honesty, substance abuse, ethics, and reliability.

The personality testing will give the employer a brief snapshot of whom and what the candidate is about, and as well, provide a description on whether or not the individual will be a good match for the company. Many personality testing assessments are in the form of a Meyers-Briggs assessment or a DISC behavioral screening. The Meyers-Briggs is probably the most commonly used in pre-employment screening, and determines standard personality traits such as extroversion or introversion, flexibility, and resourcefulness. The DISC screening will create an overall profile of the candidate and their behavior style by testing their basic personality quadrants in the areas of dominance, compliance, influence, and steadiness.

7. Pre-Employment Screening with Drug Testing

Nowadays, drug testing is becoming a standard in the pre-employment screening process. Much research has linked the use of drugs in the workforce to high losses in the business. One study indicated that employees with substance addictions are 6.3 times likelier to steal from an employer than a non-addicted employee. Other studies have indicated that companies that conduct drug screening programs will be 4 times less likely to experience job related accidents which ultimately will lead to greater productivity with their employees, and thus, greater profits.

Consent will be required for drug testing, but again, failure to provide consent will give the employer valuable information about the candidate as well. During the pre-employment screening process, the candidate will receive instructions from the employer on collection information and locations to provide a sample for drug testing. Most results and reports are available from collection centers within 24 hours.

8. Pre-Employment Screening - Your Legal Obligations

For all purposes of pre-employment screening, employers have every right to the individual's information; however, this does not go at the cost of sacrificing the rights of individual privacy. Individual privacy rights are protected by a number of organizations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

When conducting a pre-employment screening or background check, the employer is required to give written disclosure to the candidate stating that information will be collected on them for employment purposes. This disclosure must be given in writing, and it is required that it is also a document that is separate from the main application. Before any pre-employment screening can be conducted, the employer must receive authorization in writing from the candidate.

9. Outsourcing Pre-Employment Screening Through Private Agencies

In this day and age of busy business, many employers simply do not have the time to put forth into an extensive pre-employment screening process. In this case, service providers are available to assist the employer in the selection and hiring of the correct applicant for their company. These service providers are businesses dedicated solely to the purpose of conducting extensive background checks and pre-employment screening for their customers - the prospective employers.

Pre-employment screening agencies have the resources and tools to find information on a prospective employee to discover criminal histories, fraudulent social security information, false resumes, drug histories, or applications with incorrect information. Other information obtained from these agencies is previous employment verification, education verification, driving history and records, drug screening, credit checks, criminal background histories, and much more. A pre-employment screening agency will provide the prospective employer with a report on the information they receive and leave the final decision to the employer in terms of hiring potential.

Many organizations are using the service of outside professionals as a cost effective means of drug testing and pre-employment screening. These services are not only affordable, but also confidential and accurate in determining if your applicant has reported their qualifications with integrity. Agencies such as these will save you both time and money in the hiring process, and will assist employers in making the right decisions in terms of hiring. If you want extensive pre-employment screening on all your applicants, but do not have the time or resources to conduct the screening methods described here, a service provider dedicated strictly to this cause may be the answer for you.
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