8 Common Mistakes in Background Checks

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Posted by: David Garcia July 14, 2023

Background checks are an essential step in hiring experienced and safe employees. A thorough background check helps an employer assess the potential risks associated with a candidate while verifying their identity, ensuring they have the qualifications required for the role, and confirming whether or not they have been convicted of any crimes.

However, background checks sometimes can be a source of error, and some employers can make costly mistakes while performing them. Read on to explore eight of the most common background check mistakes and suggested ways to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Having a Background Check Policy in Place

Without a policy that specifies which positions require a background check, when they should be conducted, and what information the reviews should cover, hiring teams may not be aware of this necessary step and wind up hiring the wrong people. This lack of documentation also makes it difficult to prove they conducted a proper background check on a candidate if necessary. 

Be aware that running a screening check on someone considered for one position but failing to run one on someone considered for another similar position can be seen as discriminatory in the eye of the law. A policy ensures they’re carried out consistently. A background check policy should address who will conduct the check, who should be screened, and how that process will be consistently performed for each candidate.

Mistake #2: Not Understanding Employment Laws

Ignorance of federal and state employment laws could lead to legal issues. Employers should ensure they comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, discrimination laws, and state-specific laws. Such laws dictate what information can be included in a background check report, the candidate’s rights, and how the data should be used.

Mistake #3: Only Screening Full-Time Employees

Employers focusing exclusively on full-time employees could expose the company to potential risks. The same risks present in full-time employment are often present in part-time or contract work or even with vendors you work with. Screening all employees regardless of their employment status should be a standard practice. If someone has access to your building, areas where your employees work, or areas where files are kept, they should first be screened.

Mistake #4: Proceeding Without Employee Consent

Background checks require proper disclosure and the candidate’s consent before they can be conducted. You must receive consent before any further screenings are performed. Engaging in background checks without consent can result in legal repercussions, which no business wants to face. Don’t forget to get permission from each candidate each time you want to run an employment screening.

Mistake #5: Not Screening Social Media Activity

Most people have a social media presence today, and employers can learn much about candidates through their social media activity. Failing to screen for social media activity could result in a missed opportunity to learn critical information about a candidate. At the same time, however, social media should never be your only source of information for an employment screening. Use a combined effort of various sources, including but not limited to social media, to compile a comprehensive and accurate file of information.

Mistake #6: Relying on Automated Software

Automated software can provide quick employee screenings, but they often lack accuracy and breadth compared to what a human can obtain. While such automated programs can be a helpful aid during the screening process, they shouldn’t be the extent of the search. 

Employers should always hire experts in performing background checks, like ScoutLogic, to help prevent errors from automated software. 

Mistake #7: Mistaken Identity

Due diligence should be done to ensure the information in a candidate’s background check report is relevant and accurate. Mistakenly using the wrong name or incorrectly entering a social security number can result in information gathered that is incorrect or misleading. Ensure you’re searching for the correct candidate and verifying the information found.

Mistake #8: Not Allowing Candidates to Correct Background Check Data

The law requires employers to notify a candidate if adverse information is found during a background check. Candidates also need access to their background check information to dispute any inaccuracies. Not allowing a candidate to dispute information can damage the employer’s reputation or result in legal consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are Background Checks Inaccurate?

Background checks can become inaccurate when mistakes are made, including using a mistaken identity, relying on automated software, failing to screen social media activity, or not allowing candidates to correct their background check data. Using a trusted background check service can ensure accurate results.

Last Thoughts

A background check is essential to the hiring process and helps you protect your business, employees, and customers. However, be aware of common mistakes to help maintain the integrity of the process. With this guide, you can identify and avoid the eight most common mistakes employers make during background checks, increase confidence in your hiring process, and ensure you’re hiring the right talent. 

Always seek the guidance of the experts from ScoutLogic to ensure you make the correct decision every time. Request a quote today.

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