Background Checks

For purposes of this blog, large companies can be defined as those with multiple locations, other subsidiary business units, or businesses with multiple functional areas that operate with considerable autonomy contained in at last one large complex.

The first step in the process should be conducting a pre-employment audit to determine what sorts of background checks, reference checks, and other screening techniques are already in place.

In is not uncommon within large companies to find numerous process consistency problems. The simple fact that various business units may be scattered across several states makes it difficult to ensure that each and every step in the process is being followed with consistency. One of the most important reasons every large business should have a standardized pre-employment background and reference checking program, therefore, is to ensure process consistency. And that consistency should extend throughout the organization, no matter how many locations there are and no matter how many people have some degree of hiring authority. Why? Inconsistent hiring practices can easily lead to charges of discrimination, or wrongful denial of employment, or to accusations of unfair hiring practices. Rather than face all that, it simply makes good business sense—and good legal sense—to insure that process consistency in hiring practices exist throughout the corporation.

Once the company-wide audit has been done, the next step is to adopt a comprehensive policy with regard to the hiring process. The steps to be taken should be carefully and completely outlined and set in stone! This will help ensure that every prospective employee is treated exactly the same. As a matter of fact, part of the corporate-wide hiring policy should contain a statement like, “No offer of employment may be made until every step in the pre-employment screening process has been conducted and reviewed by (HR department or HR position title).”

The hiring process will obviously vary from company to company. But the point of the exercise, regardless of how it’s carried out, is to make sure the candidate is all he or she claims to be and can do all he or she claims—and do it well. Some functional managers will complain, “I’ve got a spot to fill! I can’t wait for all this checking to take place!” Well, that may be so, but it’s far better to wait a few extra days to be safe than to rush into a hiring decision that will be regretted down the road. Bad hiring decisions are very expensive, not just in terms of the wasted pre-employment hiring costs, but also the replacement costs of finding and hiring someone else. As the old saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.”