Making decisions without adequate info is like navigating a motorway blindfolded. In rush hour. Ok fine, maybe it’s not quite that deadly. But we exaggerate for effect… Point is: you don’t order a meal without finding out what will be on your plate; you don’t buy a car without knowing the mileage, the fuel consumption, the number of owners it’s had; and you certainly don’t watch a movie without IMDB-ing it first. So why would you hire someone without looking into them?
And by looking into them, we don’t mean cyberstalking. We mean (1) double-checking that they are who they say they are, (2) getting their references and (3) making sure they’re permitted to work in the country if they’re not local. These are some of the reasons why pre-employment background checks are considered best practice.
Other important reasons to perform pre-employment screening includes:
- Compliance: many industries are required to perform specific background checks before employing people in certain roles.
- Protecting your business and physical assets: background checking can help you identify people with a propensity for dishonesty or for aggressive behaviour, for example.
- Cultural fit and avoiding bad hires: proper referencing, for example, can help you identify a person’s strength and weaknesses, where they may need extra development, how they might fit into your team, whether they are natural leaders and whether they are likely to stay with your business for an extended period.
- It helps you look after your brand and reputation: your people can make or break your brand. This is nothing new. Vetting helps you eliminate unforeseen risks by helping you get as much contextual info as possible.
The time and effort you invest upfront pays off by way of lower employee turnover, higher customer satisfaction rates, and better bottom-line results. (Keen to better understand the use case and ROI for background screening? Read this article on 5 reasons why people background check.
So which pre-employment background checks matter?
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks… Right To Work (RTW) checks… Know Your Employee (KYE)… Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) checks… Director searches… You get the drill… There are plenty of checks out there, making it tricky to decipher the difference and determine which ones you actually need and why.
The checks that matter most:
1 – IDV Check
Identity Verification is the check you do first. Why? Because you want to make sure your candidate is who they say they are before you do spend any more time, money or energy in the process of completing any other checks. And, if you consider the fact that Identity Fraud is on the rise – with over 500 identities being compromised daily in the UK alone – the argument for doing this check becomes even more obvious.
2 – Visa and Work Entitlement Checks
Once you’ve completed an IDV, the next thing you want to check is whether your candidate has the relevant working rights. Are they a citizen? If so, this is a process you can skip. But with almost 2.3 million EU nationals alone living in the UK and 7 million migrants living in Australia, there’s a high probability that your candidate maybe someone who’s in the country on a visa. Legally, you have to check every non-citizen’s working rights. This is where Visa and Work Entitlement checks come in.
In Australia, a simple way to do this is by conducting a Vevo check. When you use an automated system that’s directly plugged into government sources, like ours, this process can literally be as simple as 3 easy steps. And it can take as little as 5 minutes. In the UK, the process doesn’t differ much. Check out this Guide to Right to Work Checks by the UK Government.
3 – Reference Checks
Tracking down a former employer can be an exercise in to-and-fro frustration. Luckily, online referencing tools simplify employment reference checking. It cuts down administrative time. And ultimately improves the experience for everyone involved.
With the right electronic referencing system, your applicant(s) can input their referees’ contact details directly into the system. A preconfigured or custom workflow then triggers an invitation notice to each employment referee asking them to fill out the candidate’s employment details through the secure portal. The entire reference questionnaire, of course, being a pre-set template (often with the ability to easily add or remove questions based on the role requirements etc.).
Follow up reminders can also be built into your tool. Employment references are automatically received and the candidate’s records are updated without any need for manual action. Remind me again why we’ve ever done it any other way?!
4 – Police Check
Nine times out of ten, it’s less about whether your preferred candidate has a criminal record and more about whether they have disclosed it to you in the recruitment process. But every once in a while, in specific industries like finance, there are regulations against hiring people who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Whatever your reason for checking, it’s always a good idea that you do. In Australia, you can obtain a national police check through agencies that are accredited with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and work with police agencies across the country. In the UK there’s a similar process for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) police checks. If you run fewer than 100 checks a year you’ll need to work with a company authorized by the DBS to do checks on your behalf. Information is available online to help you decide if the job you’re looking to fill requires a basic, standard or enhanced check.
A couple of other things to keep in mind when it comes to pre-employment screening:
- Explain to the candidate what checks you are doing and why they are relevant to the role. Be sure to get their consent and help them understand where their personal information will be stored (if applicable).
- You can coordinate some of these checks manually. But this is likely to take a lot of your time.
- Automated checks don’t have to be expensive. There are platforms that let you pay per check – so you only pay for what you need and what you use.
- It’s important to keep candidate experience top of mind when coordinating background checks or deciding on an automated provider.
- Doing background checks the wrong way can really slow down your time-to-hire rate.
- If you are currently doing checks but you’re finding this process particularly slow, read this article.
It’s true that performing background checks is often seen as a pain in the behind. It’s that final step before you can make the offer. Manual checks can take a long time. It’s often seen as a tick-box exercise. And you have so many better things to do with your time than struggle with the paperwork and chasing back and forth often associated with manual background checking. Knowing why it’s good to do them, which ones to start with and which processes are best for your hiring needs can make things so much easier, less stressful and faster.