Employment Background Screenings: It’s Not just about Criminal Offenses

Even as a small business owner, you need to be extremely cautious when adding new hires to your staff. After all, your employees will represent your company as a whole and you’ll want to make sure that you don’t hire someone who could potentially taint your image or ruin your company altogether—for example, you wouldn’t want to hire someone accused of embezzlement. That said, conducting a background check is important. While background checks are great at highlighting someone’s criminal history, they shouldn’t be the only thing you reference when determining whether someone is a good fit for your team or not. To be 100% positive that you’re making the right hire decision, you might want to consider the options below.

Background screening
Image by John Dalrymple

Check Social Media Sites

Before you even ask someone to meet you for an interview, it’s best to see what kind of online trail your applicant has. A simple Google search can bring up a plethora of information, but sometimes it’s just best to go to the direct source—meaning plug in your applicant’s name directly in various social media search bars like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn just to see what pops up. Most social media accounts will be set to private (as any smart applicant’s profile should be) but you might just be able to get a feel for what the person is like by reading his or her’s “about me” section and checking out his or her profile picture. If you do have free access to the applicant’s Facebook it’s best to check before and after the interview to see if the candidate says anything negative about the company or sounds too pompous in general, like “nailed that interview.” Some employers are now asking for applicants to log-in Facebook during the interview. I personally think it’s a bit extreme, but if you feel it’s necessary it’s definitely an option.

Verify Degrees

I cannot stress this enough. Just because an applicant says he or she graduated with a certain degree from a certain college doesn’t meant that it’s true. It even happens in the corporate world too: earlier this summer Yahoo’s now former CEO got the ax when it was discovered he lied about having a degree he never earned on his resume. That said, some applicants lie. To make sure that the information is legitimate, all you need to do is call the Registrar’s Office of the college the applicant claims he or she went to and they’ll be able to say whether they earned their diploma from there or not.

Always Call References

Last but certainly not least always follow up with references—at least then you can confirm that your applicant did in fact have prior work experience at another place of employment. You also might want to do a quick informal background check on your applicant’s references just so you know they’re not related to the applicant or anything like that.

About the Author: Jane Smith is a freelance blogger for www.backgroundcheck.org, a website that helps employers and consumers learn about the ins and outs of a thorough background check. She welcomes all questions and comments at janesmith161@gmail.com

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