Background Screenings: A Personal Approach

Pre-Employment Background Screenings

A Personal Process

Human resources is all about people. As a human resources professional, you understand the value to your organization of each individual’s unique experience and perspective. The hiring process should be all about finding individuals who will thrive in your organization, but online applications, automated resume screening services, stilted, scripted interviews, and background screenings are anything but personal. Well-intentioned efforts to be fair and impartial weigh the resulting list of facts against a predetermined hiring matrix and then the hire/not hire decision spits out like a yes/no answer on a shaken Magic 8-Ball. 

How many good hires have you passed over because of this impersonal approach? Since we can all agree that no one is perfect, is there a more nuanced way to approach potentially troubling information in a background screening that allows you to make hiring decisions that are genuinely personal?

Putting People in a People Business

Twenty years ago, a minor indiscretion or error in judgment in an applicant’s distant past would never even see the light of day during the hiring process. But today, with the help of digital records and online searches, nothing ever really goes away. Comprehensive background checks are able to turn over every single rock and find even the smallest infractions. What are some things you can do to bring a more balanced approach to the background screening space?

  • It’s all relative. Remember, not all offenses are created equal. There’s a big difference between a recent DUI and a 10-year-old shoplifting conviction. Timing, patterns, and context matter and not every event that appears in a background check should, simply on the face of it, be disqualifying. Consider the individual, ask questions, and assess whether changes have been made since the infraction occurred. 
  • It’s not all relevant. Background screenings can turn up a lot of information, much of which may not be all that relevant to the position in question. Set priorities for different screening elements based on the responsibilities of the job. For example, employees who are required to operate a motor vehicle should have a clean driving record and employees who have access to company accounts should have a clean credit report. 
  • In the end, it’s all about the big picture. Give promising candidates the opportunity to explain. Circumstances, rehabilitation, and ensuing work history are all important facets of the big picture that cannot be gleaned from background checks alone. If there’s one thing about life that we can all agree on, it’s that our greatest strengths are built on struggle. Some of the most talented, hardworking individuals you will ever hire will be those that have had to overcome challenges. Don’t pass these folks over because of an impersonal hiring matrix.

The Good News

A more personalized, custom approach to hiring decisions fits comfortably in the HR wheelhouse. Partnering with an experienced background search service provider will help design and execute  background checks that are positions specific and provide the information you need to make fast, safe, sound hiring decisions.

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