Background & Reference Checking

What are They Not Telling You?

Background Screenings:

We all know the consequences of making a bad hire – it can lower your team’s morale, lower productivity, and even worse negatively affect customer relations.

Pre-employment background and reference checks can not only save you money, it can also protect your business. How? If your employees come into direct contact with your customer or another employee and causes them harm your business can be liable if that employee has a criminal record. A background and reference checks can also provide insight into an individual’s reliability, character, and integrity.

There are several background checks that you should consider as you make your decision. Not all of them, however, are appropriate. So consider the position and what your company does before deciding which checks to perform.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s worth considering the following background screening:

  • Name and Address
  • Educational Background
  • Drug Test
  • Work History
  • Criminal Background (check with a lawyer first to see what your state permits).
  • Driving Records (sometimes necessary if the job demands this skill).
  • If your employees work with children or in other care positions, it may also be worth checking the sex offender registry. Some states may require it.
It is important that you when picking a provider, that you ensure they are accredited. This will ensure that they are compliant to federal and state specific laws when conducting the screening. For a list of accredited online pre-employment screening companies, see this website

See “Background Screening Guidelines” for more detailed information on what kind of test to run, including their benefits and associated risks

Reference Checks

You may find that getting a truthful reference from an applicant’s former employer is tougher than ever these days. Because employers know that both saying too much and saying too little can have legal consequences, they’re increasingly wary of being specific about past employees and their work histories.

Because of these difficulties, you may consider bypassing the whole process, but don’t. Getting reliable information from former managers and co-workers is an important task to complete before selecting someone as an employee of your company.

Here are some tips on making this process a little easier:

  • Inform the applicant during the interview that you DO check the references. Why is this important? Informing applicants that you’re checking usually helps ensure that the answers they give you during the interview are truthful.
  • Have the hiring manager do the reference check (make sure they have a copy of the “Reference Checking Guidelines”). We recommend this because the hiring manager will have questions that may not occur to others. Also, calling someone at your same level may establish greater camaraderie that will prompt a more honest and detailed reference.
  • Use responses from the interview. Asking candidates during the job interview what their former employers are likely to say about them can provide you with a good starting point for getting the former employer to talk openly. You may not get a totally frank answer, but you can get valuable comments and insights. After all, the candidate must assume that you’re going to check out his answers.
  • Don’t put too much trust in written references given to you by the applicant. For the best responses, pick up the phone. E-mailing companies is usually ineffective as well. References aren’t likely to be as candid or as detailed in writing as they would be verbally.
  • If you get information that puts the candidate in a bad light, try to get verification from one or two other sources, just to be safe