HR Best Practices: The 3 Cs Of Background Check Policies

Background Checks   |   

With Labor Day (the unofficial end of summer) behind us, everyone's shaking off the sand and getting back to work.

For HR professionals, September often feels like the calm before the storm of year-end wrap-ups and planning for the new year. This is the perfect time to review company policies to ensure you're following best practices.

Employment background check policies are among the most important to review. Employment screening helps companies hire the right person for the job and protect your employees, customers, and reputation.

Yet, employment-screening policies must be implemented fairly, with consideration for all applicable laws. This holds true throughout checks of criminal records, driving records, drug screening, credit checks, education and employment verification, and other applicable checks.

Ultimate Guide To Background Check Compliance

Appropriate background screening policies should be written with these characteristics in mind:

1. Company-wide

Create and apply background check policies across the whole company, even for executive management. Even high-level executives have falsified career details that both damage and embarrass their companies. In 2012, Yahoo's CEO left the company due, in part, to revelations that he embellished his education on his resume.

Assuring that every person you hire has the correct qualifications saves time and effort, while preserving company morale. On average, supervisors spend 17% of their time managing poorly performing employees. In the same survey, 95% of employers said that a poor hiring decision affects the morale of the whole team.

Company-wide policies can (and should) be role specific. For example, when hiring someone who will handle money, a credit check, a criminal records check, and an education check are all appropriate. However, a credit check isn't necessary for an employee who won't deal with money or financial information.

2. Consistent

Pre-employment background screening must also be consistent. Most negligence lawsuits stem from inconsistency in applying HR policies. Inconsistent enforcement opens the door to discrimination charges, and background screening is no exception.

Set up guidelines for the type of screenings your company will conduct for different employee levels, and keep this process consistent across all candidates within those levels. Two candidates applying for the same position should get the same background checks run on them. Screening all potential candidates according to your established policy within each level can help ensure you're treating all candidates fairly and applying policies consistently.

3. Compliant

The final, and perhaps most critical, aspect to incorporate into your background screening policy is compliance with federal, state, and local laws. When hiring a new employee, all background checks conducted must be compliant with federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines. The FCRA requires that employers get candidates' consent before running background checks and mandates a specific set of steps employers must follow if the background check returns information that will affect the hiring decision.

GoodHire's compliance team ensures that our processes are FCRA compliant and provides our customers with information and resources to help them understand regulations that apply in their states.

As your company gears up for end-of-the-year activities, take a look at your background-screening procedures. Are they company-wide, consistent, and compliant? If so, you're on the right track. If not, explore these resources, and remember to consult legal counsel for review of your policies.

Lauren Small

Lauren Small


Lauren Small is a content and social media expert who writes about hiring, onboarding, and HR best practices. Lauren comes by her HR insight honestly, having observed the culture at diverse employers Amazon, HubSpot, and GoodHire’s parent company Inflection.

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