You’ve just interviewed the perfect candidate for an open position at your company. He or she is outgoing, charismatic, and personable. You then conduct a criminal background check on the candidate, just to make sure everything checks out before you offer him or her the position. The check, however, leaves you with some surprising news — your perfect candidate has a long criminal history.
While most job applications include questions regarding felony convictions, about 90 percent of people with a criminal history lie about it on their applications. The criminal past is not discovered until a background check is run.
“Background checks allow employers to recognize a record of past criminal activity, which should be a major deciding factor about a person during a job interview,” says Jessica Ford, director of sales and operations with Ashton Staffing. “There’s usually a significant chance for the applicant to commit crimes in the future.”
Smart Business spoke with Ford about the problems you face by not doing background checks, how a staffing agency can help in the criminal background check process and how to use the results from a background check during the hiring the process.
What problems do you face by not doing criminal background checks?
Companies that hire employees without properly screening them can face many problems. Acts of violence against coworkers are on the rise, and no matter how small the act is, it can create havoc among employees. Another problem is lost revenue and productivity if an employee is dishonest. Employers have to be careful of who they allow to access confidential information because of identity theft. Companies who manufacture goods must be especially vigilant about monitoring for theft.
Criminal background checks can also be useful in regard to workers’ compensation claims. About $90 billion is lost every year in medical bills, equipment damage and lost production time for workplace accidents. More than 70 percent of fraudulent worker’s compensation claims are reported by employees with a criminal history.
What are the different types of criminal background checks available, and how do you use these checks?
Each state offers a free criminal background check through the Department of Corrections, but it only checks for offenders who have been incarcerated. Database checks can also be done through third-party vendors. This isn’t always 100 percent accurate, because some of the smaller rural counties don’t regularly update their information in the system. So there might be records from six months ago that haven’t been uploaded into the system.
There is also the seven-year history check, where database and county by county checks are done based on where the applicant has lived over the past seven years. Fingerprinting is done for anyone working in a school, medical facility and other specific fields.
How can a staffing agency help in the criminal background check process?
Companies can save time and money. Not every staffing agency requires criminal background checks as part of their hiring process, but the agencies that do require it run thousands of criminal background checks each year, depending on the size of the firm. The agency representatives are experienced in running a check, handling the paperwork involved, entering the information and interpreting the results, which isn’t always easy because of the different kinds of reporting.
And if you decide not to hire an applicant based on the information from a background check, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to notify the applicant. This process can be quite difficult and time-consuming. Your staffing representative would be responsible for any adverse action correspondence, which sometimes can be tricky, and has to be handled carefully because of the liabilities involved.
How do you use the information received during a criminal background check during the hiring process?
There are certain situations where some types of criminal backgrounds would not do well, because it would just be too easy for that person to offend again. For instance, if you are hiring for a bank teller and receive results that the candidate has a history of fraudulent checks and theft, then that would not be a good position for him or her. If you manufacture goods, sometimes there are small items that are easy to steal, so a company would not want to hire someone with a history of theft.
Every company should have a written policy in place regarding what is acceptable regarding criminal backgrounds. The best thing to do is to be consistent. Companies can require anything from a squeaky clean criminal background to only prohibiting acts of violence on their records. Employers should review their job descriptions and determine what fits best for their company. What type of information or goods their employees have access to will dictate how stringent employers need to make their hiring
Jessica Ford is the director of sales and operations at Ashton Staffing. Reach her at (770) 419-1776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.