New background check survey reveals security issues in the screening process

Due dilligence is recommended when multiple departments collaborate to vet prospecitve employees


As a security professional, it probably doesn’t surprise you that 72 percent of the security and HR professionals responding to a recent HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report survey said that through background screening they discovered issues with applicants or employees that wouldn’t otherwise been found. Additionally, 88 percent said screening uncovered candidates who lied on their resumes or job applications.

Background checks and drug testing are critical security steps to help ensure that the most qualified employees are hired. Over the years, the benchmarking survey respondents have shared some whoppers of excuses made by their job applicants who failed their background checks. For example, one respondent recently had a candidate who’d tested positive for drugs claim that he was in a wheelchair and must have rolled over some marijuana and that’s how it got on his hands. These types of results have made employment screening virtually ubiquitous among larger organizations, and rapidly growing as a practice among mid-size and small companies.

Respondents of the 2014 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report cited benefits from screening included better quality of hires (56 percent), more consistent safety and security (52 percent), improved regulatory compliance (48 percent), and more. But what screening practices do companies actually employ, and where are they leaving potential gaps that could concern security executives? The Benchmark Report provides some of these insights.

Increased Hiring Predicted

More than 3,000 respondents confirmed what most employers suspect – that the hiring outlook is generally optimistic. Seventy-one percent of companies expect organizational growth and nearly one-quarter expect growth of six percent or more. This upbeat outlook, however, puts pressure on human resources and security departments not only to find qualified candidates, but also to get them screened and hired as quickly as possible. Reducing the time to hire was a top concern for 47 percent of respondents. At the same time, nearly one third of respondents said they are taking steps to improve the candidate experience as part of an overall plan to attract and retain top candidates. The potential downside of these hiring pressures is that steps in evaluating and onboarding job applicants can be skipped or compromised, which in turn might render the organization more vulnerable to litigation, fraud, or workplace violence.

Establish and Re-Establish a Policy

Often a best practice in employment screening is for an organization to establish a screening program and policy with input from all major constituents, particularly human resources, security, and legal. The well-developed screening policy helps assure that screening, testing, and verification is being employed in a fair and consistent manner in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), all other applicable laws and regulations, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) guidelines. Such a policy not only can help ensure that step-by-step procedures are established and maintained, but also can help protect an organization against potential discrimination liability. However, what’s often overlooked is that a key to an effective screening policy and program is ongoing review and improvement since requirements and regulations change frequently. Additionally, new technologies and screening tools emerge that can help organizations improve time-to-hire, accuracy, and efficiency. Notably, nearly 40 percent of survey respondents did not anticipate making any improvements to their policies in the next year – a potential red flag for any security department.

Best Practice: Consult with your employee onboarding teams and legal counsel to establish a written policy that’s appropriate for your organization and that identifies what information will be checked and how that information will be used in the hiring decision.  Periodically review the policy to ensure it’s still appropriate and compliant with all current laws and regulations, and adjust the program and systems as needed for process and compliance improvement.

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