Background and Reference Checking

When it comes to hiring Private Staff (domestic, personal, family and business), the pitfalls and obstacles are all too familiar: shortage of qualified candidates, increasing regulations, risks to privacy and security, and exposure to litigation and liabilities. Proper planning, preparation and usage of new technologies and services are together highly effective for hiring, retaining and terminating staff.

Protecting yourself as an employer is critical equally critical for every position within your home, life or business. Whether hiring or employing a financial manager, nanny, housekeeper, chauffeur, personal assistant, chef, executive assistant, etc., you are advised be prepared and knowledgeable about the risks and traps which can impair your security and confidentiality.

A sad fact: People with questionable backgrounds gravitate toward industries where screening is light.

Important questions include:

  • Are you conducting thorough background investigations?
  • Where are you finding prospective employees?
  • How is your reference checking conducted? And what information are you gathering?

Initial background checking is, of course, a critical step in the hiring decision. However, a yearly fresh background and credit check may be recommended to provide fullest protection from unexpected or unknown changes in an employee’s personal experiences.

Employee background checking is part of an overall asset protection plan and should be included in your overall financial, legal and insurance coverage. Procedures and practices for non-family members who operate within your home or business is critical in maintaining safety and security, as well as for avoiding situations that can present threats to you, your family or your assets.

Background investigations should include:

  • Motor vehicle record
  • Credit check
  • Criminal background checks, including all States
  • Cross-reference with sexual predator list
  • Verification of true identity
  • Education verification
  • Business licenses

I-9 is required by the Federal Government to verify identity and work authorization at the time of hire, including employees who are hired to perform domestic work. Failure to properly document the status of an employee can lead to penalties.

Background Checking

Background screening processes have evolved to include much more than just the traditional criminal record search. While criminal background checks are still the most common type of screening, many organizations are choosing—and with good reason—to expand screening to also include past employment, education, credit, driving records, sex offender registries, restricted parties lists and other pre-employment checks.

A few facts about applicants:

  • 3 Out of 4 résumés are misleading
  • 21% state fraudulent degrees
  • 40% contain inflated salary claims
  • 33% include inaccurate job descriptions
  • 22% give falsified references
  • 3% have a misdemeanor record
  • 7% have a felony record

Source: All statistics from “Background Checking: The Use of Criminal Background Checks in Hiring Decisions.” SHRM. Society for Human Resource Management, 16 July 2012.

Using an accredited background check provider:

A first step is to check the provider’s website for specific language about its accreditation. Look for more than just a mention of the NAPBS. Most background check companies are members of the NAPBS but very few have actually earned its

Ensure you candidate profiles are robust by at least performing the common checks:

  • Criminal records checks (including national databases)
  • Employment history verifications
  • Education verifications
  • Reference checks

Using a screening provider that combines the best of automation and human investigation—with manual checks and verifications—provides the greatest accuracy, consistency and return on investment.

Only screen what is relevant and fair to the position.

How about Credit Checks? When are they appropriate?

Anytime an employee has access to, or knowledge of money, bank accounts, credit cards or other financial resources, you are well served to verify the employee is not under financial duress, or has had deep credit problems in the past.

Once you’ve received the results of the credit check you’ll need to determine what parts are relevant enough to disqualify an applicant from employment. For example, a missed credit card payment is much different than a history of collections, bad debt write-offs, and bankruptcies.

I-9 and e-Verify

The e-verify solution allows employers to quickly verify new employees via the Department of Homeland Security’s Employment Eligibility Verification program. This way, employers can electronically verify the eligibility of employees to work in the United States.
Not only is the e-verify solution fast, it also reduces the risk of fines and penalties for employing undocumented workers or illegal immigrants.

Reference Checking – a key part of the Background Check

Today’s best practices in reference checking breaks new ground by moving beyond unimaginative, close-ended questions that many candidates have prepared for, and moves beyond simplistic verification of prior employment. Today’s references use the intelligence gathered from Google Search and social media sites to prepare for candidate interviews ahead of time. Obtaining reference feedback ahead of an interview helps tailor interview questions to dig in on a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as identified by their previous employers, managers and co-workers. Seek to uncover the true nature of a candidate’s performance at work, relying less on what they decide to share during the interview. Research shows that candidates are likely to embellish there past accomplishments, and are not likely to tell you about situations at work that did not turn out well for them.

Candidates are likely to encourage their references to cooperate fully and honestly with a process they personally approve of. Conversely, candidates who do not understand or trust the reference process are more likely to make more cautionary and potentially confounding introduction of references.

Reference checks should be gathered from whom the candidate works for, works with and perhaps even supervises. A full picture of the candidate’s behavior at work is essential to a correct hiring decision. The value of asking the right questions, of the right people, cannot be underestimated toward the accurate assessment of a candidate’s qualifications.

Past behavior is a very good predictor of future performance.

How does Angela Mortimer Ltd perform background checks of candidates for its clients?

We use one of the largest background check companies in the world, one that is chosen by over 25% of the Fortune 100 and over 20,000 organizations across the globe to help them hire and retain the right people. Our background check partner brings expertise in compliance, client experience and applicant experience. Connected by the world’s most advanced background check technology platform, and backed by strong
financials, our background check partner continuously reinvests in its business
to ensure it remains a global leader.

Smart hiring and long term hiring decisions are based on verified facts. None of us are perfect, but a clear understanding of who you are hiring and the employment arrangements between you are key to mutual happiness and employee productivity.