Dos and Don’ts for Background Screening

On building a background screening process, its unlikely you will get everything right first time.

Whilst there is some trial and error involved, there are some key aspects to consider when you build your process.

In the long-term, an effective and successful background screening process will save your company a lot of time and money. In addition, there is the added benefit of protection from legal, financial, and reputational damage.

Here are five Dos and Don’ts for a successful background screening process:

Do: Create a Robust and User-Friendly Application Process

It is integral to your background screening process that you create and maintain a user-friendly job application process.

Oftentimes, organisations rely on basic software (e.g., Excel, Word) to take in applications and process data. However, there are two disadvantages to this process.

The first is a clunky process that can deter top candidates from making an application. A recent article by Job description Library showed that 60% of job seekers abandon the application process if it is too long and complex.

Secondly, a lack of user-friendly job application process will require more manual processes (e.g., data entry) later, which will slow down vital recruitment processes (such as background checks and referencing).

Therefore, you should ensure you have a process that takes in data and documents efficiently, that aids all aspects of your recruitment process.

Do: Obtain Consent to Process Personal Data

Even if the candidate has provided their personal data in the job application, this does not give you authorisation to perform any background checks on their behalf.

Under the current GDPR (data protection) laws, you must ask for the candidate’s consent before you process their personal data for background screening.

Do: Speak to References

This might sound obvious, but many organisations often fail to perform reference checks. This is usually due to manual processes slowing down the recruitment process, coupled with the need to onboard new starters quickly.

You can make referencing more efficient by creating a reference letter template and a system that triggers alerts if a reference has not been received.

Do: Perform a Criminal Record Check

It should be in your company’s interest to perform a criminal record check (also known as a DBS check) on new starters and employees.

A criminal record check not only provides a clearer picture of your candidate and their background, but also prevents you from any legal, financial, or reputational damage.

At a minimum, you should perform a DBS basic check on new starters, which will reveal any unspent/spent convictions, and conditional cautions.

How you deal with a new starter or employee who has convictions is entirely down to your discretion, which we discuss in more detail here.

Do note: certain industries will require some form of DBS check by law. You can find an A-Z list of job roles and the DBS checks they require here.

Do: Treat All Candidates Equally

To prevent discrimination, you should implement a background check process that applies to all candidates, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity.

For example, even if it can be assumed that your candidate has the right to work in the UK, you should still perform right to work checks accordingly.

Don’t: Perform Unnecessary Background Checks

For want of saving times and resources, you should only perform background checks that are proportionate to the role.

For example, a DVLA check may reveal that your candidate has driving convictions. However, if they are not driving on behalf of your organisation, then is such a check necessary?

For each role, you should assess the 10 key background checks and decide which of these checks should apply.

Don’t: Rely on Search Engines and Social Media

Search engines and social media do not always a reliable source of information on candidates.

A search engine search may return some information, but not be enough to perform background screening.

With social media, you may identify behavioural characteristics that raises red flags (e.g., racism, slander of former employers, etc). Upon discovery of this, you can remove a candidate from the application process. However, you can only use information that is publicly available and not information obtained from private social media profiles.

If search engines and social media channels are part of your background screening process then you must ensure this is compliant, non-discriminatory, and provides relevant information.

Don’t: Make Hasty Decisions

Hasty hiring decisions can lead to non-compliance in various forms and can easily damage your company’s reputation.

To prevent this, you should implement and build a process that deals with all eventualities.

For example, if a candidate has a criminal record, will hiring them really impact your business? Or, if a candidate has a bad credit rating, is it relevant to the role they are applying for?

Don’t: Rely on Manual Processes

From working with many clients over the years, we determined that the number 1 cause of non-compliance was caused by manual processes.

Some processes should not be done manually, as this compromises accuracy. These include ID verification, data entry, and reporting.

We talk about the effects of manual entry (amongst other common issues with background checks) in this article.

Don’t: Perform Background Checks Just Once

Part of a compliant background check process involves regular background checks.

In the education and healthcare sectors, it is required to perform DBS enhanced checks annually. Some even perform these checks every 6 months to ensure compliance.

Do not assume that certain background checks are performed once before an employee starts. Regular checks will ensure compliance, particularly in sectors with strict employment laws.

EBC Global and Your Background Screening Process

It is evident that poor practices can lead to slower and non-compliant recruitment processes.

This can have a detrimental affect on the candidate experience, compliance management, data management, and reporting.

The result is poor hiring decisions, as well as financial, legal, and reputational damage to your company.

If there is scope to implement a system that automates your background check process (that maintains compliance and increases efficiency) then you should consider Employment Check Pro.

Employment Check Pro is a secure, fast, and robust platform that offers instant employment checks. Its easy to use and has helped all our clients manage all elements of the screening and recruitment process.

It is designed for all sectors, including aviation, education, healthcare, recruitment, and more.

And not only is it secure, but it is also fast and fully GDPR-compliant.

Pro adds value to both your organisation and to your candidate. Save time and reduce paperwork; all whilst maintaining compliance.

Learn more about Pro here or complete the contact form below to book a demo.


    Further Reading

    The Vetting Process – How to Run an Efficient Operation

    What is pre-employment screening? | The employer’s guide

    Background Checks – Ten key checks employers must make


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