Whether you are filling a job that has recently been vacated or creating a new position, you should always be running background checks on your prospective employees. Not only will doing so highlight criminal history red flags and notable character flaws, but it will also help you to verify skills and find honest, well-rounded people to hire. Here are nine specific reasons why pre-screening checks are a necessity for every single employee your business brings on board.
1. It will give you greater peace of mind about your hires
Ideally, when you hire someone new to your company, you should feel 100% confident about your decision. Background checks help to provide this kind of unflappable peace of mind. When you know your employees were honest with you on their resumes and in their interviews, and when you know they aren’t hiding any scary skeletons in your closet, you are better able to bask in the glow of finding the perfect new hire.
2. You’ll uncover major red flags
Violent crimes, sexual offenses, and repeat drug convictions aren’t typically issues you want to have to worry about with new hires. Sure, you might consider hiring someone with a serious criminal past, if that person has the necessary qualifications and has evidence to prove that they have taken strides toward rehabilitation and self-betterment. However, applicants who have shown a pattern for repeat offenses, or those who have been convicted of serious crimes in the relatively recent past, might be riskier hires.
3. You’ll create a safer workplace for the rest of your employees
Part of the reason you want to be careful about hiring those with serious criminal histories is that you have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Hires that make your other employees feel threatened or ill at ease are not good hires, and might even drive parts of your workforce away. Running background checks and taking the time to review and fully consider the findings will help you to provide the safe workplace your employees deserve, without forcing you to discriminate against applicants with criminal histories.
4. You’ll create a safer place for customers
Creating a safe workplace doesn’t just impact your employees, but also your customers. An incident where one of your workers assaults a customer can be a business ruining turn of events. Screening your applicants for signs of violence or aggression can reduce the likelihood of such an occurrence ever taking place.
5. It will help protect your reputation
Say you fail to run background checks before hiring an applicant, and that person does assault—and seriously hurt—one of your customers. Or say you hired a delivery driver without a pre-screening, only to have that person cause a fatal accident because he or she was drinking on the job. Because you didn’t run background checks, you missed the previous assault or DUI convictions that might have caused you to reconsider your hiring decisions. You also failed to do your due diligence in vetting your employees and providing a safe place for workers and customers alike—a failure that result in a negligent hiring lawsuit. Running background checks can help you to avoid such situations, which can ruin your company’s reputation in the best case and bankrupt you in the worst.
6. It will verify or disprove all of your applicants’ key information
Which college did your applicant go to? Which degrees did they earn? For which past employers have they worked? Which jobs and responsibilities did they hold with those employers? Theoretically, these questions should be answered by an applicant’s resume. But applicants aren’t always fully honest about their educational or professional histories, and will sometimes fabricate certain parts of their resume to boost their chances of getting hired. Background checks, in addition to digging up criminal histories, can also verify details of an applicant’s educational and professional pasts.
7. It will help you avoid law-breaking hires
A law firm can’t hire a lawyer and let her practice if she hasn’t passed the Bar Exam in that state. A school can’t hire a teacher and give him control of a classroom unless he is licensed and certified with the state’s Department of Education. Background and verification checks can help you make sure that your applicants have the necessary degrees, licenses, and certifications to be a legally viable candidate.
8. Hiring processes are costly
Look, it costs a lot of money and a lot of time to fill a full-time position within your company. Advertising job availabilities, running a business without one key team member, and taking time out of your workday to interview applicants or review resumes are all things that will affect your company’s spending, productivity, and revenue.
Furthermore, even once you’ve hired someone, don’t immediately expect your business to revert to maximum efficiency. It takes most new hires between six months and a year to get used to their new jobs. In other words, training new hires and helping them to get the hang of a new work environment will continue to cost your company money even months after you did the last interview.
Bottom line, you need to hire the right person the first time, to avoid having to restart the process three or six months in. Asking the right interview questions and knowing what you want out of an applicant will help you to ensure that you are making a hiring decision that is going to stick. Background checks can help too, highlighting everything from problems with past bosses or colleagues to gaps in skills and experience.
9. You are legally permitted to do so
There is a misconception in some circles that the recent surge of “ban the box” legislation has made background checks illegal for employers, which isn’t the case. If you run a business in an area where the box has been banned for private employers, you need to remove criminal history questions from your applications and delay your background checks until later on in the hiring process. All businesses in the United States are still permitted to vet their new hires using background checks, though—a right you should always exercise to make sure you are being smart about your staffing!
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.