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Should I Run a Background Check on a Potential Employee?

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The hiring process is never easy. Attracting talent is one of the most important challenges that any business can face. But you’ve done your due diligence. You’ve posted your opening, reviewed applicants, interviewed a few and finally found someone that perfectly suits your needs. After calling references, is it safe to hire? Or there are more steps to it? Depending on the level of responsibility and the information that your potential hire will handle, you might want to be more thorough.

New hires cost a company time and money. There is an onboarding process and learning curve, so being extra cautious before choosing someone is the best course of action. A bad decision may not only mean that you have to start all over again but in the worst-case scenario, you could end up dealing with a lawsuit or fraud. Most companies rely on background checks in order to vet their candidates, but how far do background checks go?

Before a Background Check

If you are thinking that a background check is all you need in order to secure your company when hiring new staff members, you are wrong. There are a lot of steps to consider before. A well written, thorough job description is one of the most overlooked steps of the hiring process. Clear and straightforward expectations should be the norm. If you haven’t done it yet, write down the essential aspects of the position, from daily tasks to how it relates to other areas of your business. When you interview your candidates, plan your questions carefully. Finally, make sure that your potential hire fully understands how their performance will be reviewed.

A good interview process should also involve a two-step verification. Ideally, candidates will be interviewed by more than one person. This will ensure that there were no questions left unanswered and that no potentially harmful personality traits were overlooked. If your new hire will be working with a larger team, a visit to the company and meeting with their peers is also recommended.

The last step before the background check is to verify references. A very good tip is to ask for references that were professionally related to your candidate in different manners. A supervisor and a team member, or an employee. An excellent employee may turn out to be a toxic coworker, so it’s important to compare and contrast your sources. Keep in mind that you can ask for more references than the ones that your candidate initially offered, so don’t hesitate to ask if you feel that the information you already have is not enough.

Once these steps are all covered, but before the actual background check, consider getting legal advice from professionals to understand the type of information that you are allowed to gather, and always ask for your candidate’s consent. With background checks becoming a standard during the hiring process, most people will be comfortable with allowing you to go forward. Because there is no one way to perform the background check, a few things to consider are:

  1. Stick to the information that is relevant to the position. If you are interviewing an accountant or someone who will have a significant financial responsibility in your business, checking for credit records or history of fraud may be important. But this does not apply to all cases. Ask for legal advice whenever you feel unsure.
  2. While you may feel that a background check is easy, you are not legally allowed to perform them by yourself. Hire a professional agency that will cover all the legal ground.

While a background check can help in ensuring the safety of your business, a well thought onboarding process and probation period are the last steps before you can call someone part of your team. In the end, paying close attention to how a person conducts themselves after the hiring process and a well-established feedback policy will help any new hire perform at their best.