Background Checks: The Final Puzzle Piece
Finding the right candidate to fill an open position is like trying to piece together a puzzle. You start out with some scattered pieces like their credentials and skills, and slowly start to fill in the rest of the picture with their personality and potential. In addition to reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and checking references to make sure that all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together, you should be conducting thorough background checks to ensure that you are making a quality hire. Background checks are often the last piece of the puzzle and a necessary means of finding out if they are the right fit for your company, making it important that you complete the background check process correctly.
Here are some tips to guide you through the background check process:
Open the conversation early: Broaching the topic of background checks can be uncomfortable for both employer and candidate, but don’t let that stop you from creating an opportunity for the candidate to speak openly about past transgressions. A candidate who is truly invested in the position will be upfront about their past in order to create an honest employee/employer relationship rather than undermining their integrity by withholding information.
Know your company’s policies: Every company has a different set of policies regarding what is acceptable for a new hire to have on their record, and it is in your best interest to be well versed in those policies so that you can pass the information on to job candidates. Knowing these policies will help you to determine which pieces of a background check are deal breakers, as well as have the ability to answer any questions that the candidate may have. Explaining your company’s policies may end up saving you time and money if the candidate is aware that they are not going to pass the background check in advance.
Look for patterns: Unless your company’s policies prevent you from hiring a candidate, they shouldn’t be dismissed without further thought and investigation. If they do have a record, look for patterns. Did their background check reflect one poor decision or is it a laundry list of run ins with law enforcement? If you notice a pattern of behavior that does not align with your company’s morals, it is best to part ways and find an employee who will be a better fit.
Be consistent: Along with adhering to your company’s hiring policies, develop your own non negotiables for new hires. This is especially important if your company’s policies are ambiguous and you find yourself forced to use your best judgement when met with “grey areas”. No matter how you decide on your non negotiables and hiring guidelines, make sure that you are consistent in those decisions to avoid claims of bias or favoritism.
Maintain open communication: Throughout the hiring process, maintain open communication with the candidate. If you have questions or concerns about the results of their background check, find a time to clarify with them. If you are unable to hire them due to past transgressions, don’t shy away from giving them a real explanation. Transparency in this stage of the hiring process is necessary to avoid misunderstandings.
While most background checks come back without any issues, allowing the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place, they are a useful and necessary tool to weed out candidates who would not be a proper fit for the culture of your company. Follow the guidelines above to make the process smooth for both you and the job candidate.