Now Streaming// by Cameron Teal
Whether you need a pre-employment background screen for a small business or a big business, an accurate background check is going to be useful for identifying flaws in your potential hires. But, what information are you going to get and how can you use it effectively? Understanding the information that will be reported to you during candidate screening can be the difference between hiring a trustworthy business partner and a dud that makes a career out of job hopping.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf is what sets the parameters of what can be included in employment screening. It has effectively established what can and cannot be found within the context of a “consumer report” (the governmental name given to a background check and not unlike your credit report). Much of the information is limited to seven years, but there are key areas of a consumer report you should be focused on when hiring new people for specific positions.
What can be found on a consumer report and what should you look for?
Social security number, credit records, driving records and vehicle ID’s, educational records, bankruptcy, past employers, personal references, prison/incarceration records, medical records, court records, workers compensation, drug test records, state licensing records.
All employees—The basics for everyone that includes information from at most the last seven years
The social security number search will flag federal level problems that can draw federal/county criminal records to your attention. If something comes up, ask about it and keep it mind when selecting your candidate. (It is the first thing I put on here for a reason).
Employment background should be included, giving you an idea of how the candidate has handled the latest recession. Have he/she spent the last two years working three part time jobs or collecting off unemployment? Beyond that, what kind of picture does his/her employment history paint? Did he/she work through school (schooling/education records)—which is another thing a standard background check should provide; did he/she start working at an early age and in a focused niche? Read between the lines. Does your company require a certain level of education, ie. a BS or MS for higher level positions? Double check everything.
Character References can be misleading, as many employers will likely only include the dates the individual worked with them, ending wage/salary… take the feedback knowing the employer is often legally responsible to hold back negative private information; BUT free to give the positive side of someones work experience.
Check for consistency – If a job does not show up on their resume from the last seven years, he/she is probably omitting it for a reason. Double check dates the candidate worked with other employers and do your homework, connecting available character references. Maybe the candidate did not include a job because they did not think it would help them in getting your position, but maybe he/she withheld it for another reason…
Financial employees — Check the credit report. If the candidate is going to be handling your money, you want to know if he/she can handle his/her own. Here is where an accurate background check will stand out. Of the many credit checks available, you are looking to get the big three—Experian, Equifax, and TrasnUnion. Do not settle on just a single credit bureau report, you want a broad range with the three.
Drivers — Check your candidates driving records and vehicle Id’s. A driver that is owned the same vehicle for 6-10 years probably knows how to take care of it and drive it correctly. Someone that is gone through 6 different cars in 8 years might not. Obviously, check for speeding tickets, moving violations, and other vehicle related news. Check if he/she has glasses or contacts, does he/she wear them to the interview? Make it something to check up on and continue to check back up on.
Older Employees — workers comp and medical history. Everything might check out clean and clear, but just like trades that happen in the world of sports and athletes; you want to know if you are getting someone who has a history of expensive medical bills. It should not be the reason you hire or do not hire someone, but someone with a history of ten jobs in six years with six claims of workers compensation might alert you to someone who might have alternative motives.
Nanny’s or health care providers—check the Sexual offender registry. Crucial.
Check your tax bracket—If the candidate makes more than $75,000 a year many of the seven and ten year restrictions of information DOES NOT APPLY to them. (FCRA §605(b)(3). Specifically, You definitely want to know more when you are hiring upper management from outside the company.
How can you use this information in an interview?
The FCRA does not limit what you can ask during an interview, only what can be reported on a background check. Accurate background checks will only show arrests from the last seven years, which does not mean that an employer cannot ask the candidate if they have ever been arrested without being convicted. Feel free to ask the candidate to elaborate on what strikes you as odd. If the interviewee does not know where to stop, you may learn more than you wanted but enough to choose someone else.
Furthermore, this is another good example of why you should have a background check done on yourself to check for accuracy, inconsistencies, and be aware of what private information is in the public forum. And when the rolls are reversed and you are the one in the hot seat, remember that if you were arrested 16 years ago when you were an eighteen year old and were not convicted at a federal level, you can admit to it if you like, but your report will NOT attest to it (so long as you weren’t convicted).
The FCRA will limit what you can see on a consumer report. From beyond seven years, you will not find much negative information, bank information that coincided with collection agencies/credit reports, or civil records and records of arrest (that do not lead to criminal convictions). But you will get most of that information from within the last seven years, and specific details that can provoke good questions during interviews and information that can help you pick the perfect employee. International background checks are the next level if you are business is worldwide, but either way an accurate background check will likely make the difference.
Categories: General Background Check Tips