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Pre-Employment Screening Guidance for New Businesses

October 23, 2017

Screening applicants to determine who you invite for an interview or who you may wish to hire, is a sensible step taken by most companies and can prevent problems in the future with employees who may have questionable backgrounds. Many employers outsource this process to third parties that specialize in conducting background checks.

What is the main purpose of pre-employment screening?

Pre-employment screening is primarily designed to verify the information that job candidates supply on their resumes and application forms when they’re applying for jobs. Screening can also give employers information about a candidates’ previous criminal convictions or character flaws that may make them unsuitable for the job they are applying for.

What other checks may take place before candidates are interviewed for positions?

  • Criminal history:

    Some states have laws governing how criminal information can be used when evaluating potential employees, and the services of the FBI and other state identification agencies may be employed to help businesses further investigate candidates’ backgrounds when considered necessary.

  • Tracing social security numbers:

    This service can be used to check whether social security information provided by job candidates, is valid when checking for credit and criminal history.

  • Testing for drugs:

    If an employer wishes to conduct drug tests on candidates, they must inform them prior to interview and they must be sure to follow the legal guidelines issued by the state.

  • Lie detectors:

    There is an act called The Employee Polygraph Protection Act that prevents most employers from conducting these tests for the purposes of pre-employment screening. However, some companies are exempt from this, such as those who provide armored car services or who manufacture, distribute or dispense pharmaceutical drugs.

  • Workers compensation claims history:

    Evidence of prior or current injuries that might make a candidate unsuitable for a role, may be revealed if they have previously claimed or appealed for workers compensation, since this information is made public for employment purposes.

  • Sex offender registry screening:

    This may be undertaken by employers if the candidate is likely to be working with vulnerable members of society, or simply to protect their current employees from risk.

  • Motor vehicle records screening:

    This is usually only used when candidates may have access to vehicles as part of their job.

  • Credit history:

    These checks may give employers an insight into the nature of applicants, and if employers request a credit history check, then they must gain the applicants consent first, and their findings must be shared with them. Credit checks are regulated by The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

  • Employment verification:

    Some employers may wish to check that the information relating to previous employment provided on the applicants resume or application form is accurate, but some employers will limit the response they give to such inquiries.

  • Education verification:

    Verifying the information provided by applicants on their resumes related to their educational qualifications, is something that many employers will want to do, especially for entry level jobs. Under The Family Right to Privacy Act, candidates must provide their consent for their previous place of education to release their records to employers.

It is commonplace for employers to conduct at least one of several pre-employment checks available to them, and it is even more common for them to engage with outside parties during the process. Outsourcing the screening process also ensures that employers adhere to The Fair Credit Reporting Act, and that a candidates rights are protected.

When employers conduct a check of your background (credit, criminal, past employer) or use a third party to do so, the background check is covered by The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

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