Best Practices in HR

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Chris Dyer
  January 1, 1970

How Accurate Are Criminal Background Checks?

As the world braces for re-opening, business is ready to pick up everywhere – including the business of actually hiring. For companies looking to stay on top of their game, that means having a criminal background check procedure that you can trust to vet candidates & choose the right new hire.

But not all background checks are run equally, so if you’re looking to be as thorough and precise as possible, then there’s a few factors to consider. It should go without saying that the consequences of retrieving a false criminal history are BIG, so check carefully. Or at least make sure whoever you’re hiring to run them is. To get started, there’s a few easy ways to ensure that your company’s background checks are accurate. And they all start with some simple questions.

How Recent Are Your Sources?

To get accurate information, it helps to have the most up-to-date sources available. Criminal records are constantly edited and revised, not just for new crimes recorded, but for cases of mistaken identity, where the wrong name gets attached to the wrong crime. Lawsuits have even arisen from services attaching a false criminal history to candidates sharing the same first name as the offender. Make sure whoever you use is referencing the most recent data they can, and ensure they have the ability to keep refreshing their sources.

What Guidelines Are You Following?

If you’ve got at least 15 employees, chances are you’re under the jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – founded in 1964 as part of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC’s job is to enforce all federal laws against workplace discrimination, and that starts before employees are hired. Make sure that your background check is strictly adhering to the laws against race, color, religion, sex, national origin and disability discrimination, because if the information obtained violates any of them, it’ll be considered useless. Not to mention simply inaccurate. It’s an easy check for your checks that’s absolutely vital.

Is Your Service Part of the NAPBS?

Founded in 2003, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners exists as a shortcut to finding a service that follows everything discussed above. The Association has strict guidelines that ensure your background checks will be as, well, professional as they come. A service doesn’t have to be part of the NAPBS in order to be worthwhile, and in fact many of the most cutting-edge services aren’t, but if you’d like a short and simple hunt for accuracy alone, it’s definitely worth looking into their members.

In Closing

Criminal background checks are ultimately as accurate as the people and systems running them. So whether you’re opting for one run by an Applicant Tracking System or an office full of humans (or better yet – a hybrid of both), make sure you’re educated on their retrieval methods, guidelines, ethics and history. A good reputation is one thing, but knowing how they actually work is key to making sure they’re working right for YOU.

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