Unfortunately you can’t have both. We covered some of the reasons you can’t have it both ways in this prior blog post. We posted this blog about six years ago. And, the more things change, the more they stay the same, as it is said. The Society of Human Resource Management had an article containing the results of a recent survey of business conducted by HireRight. Below is a summary of the article. We highly recommend you read the article in its entirety.
Speed is now more important to employers than accuracy of results when choosing a background-screening provider, according to this new survey.
Speed is certainly a primary consideration when moving somebody through the hiring process, but accuracy’s decline as a priority among North American employers—going from 75 percent to 49 percent in 2023—is cause for concern at a time when regulatory bodies have decided to focus on the issue.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, screening providers must follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual who is the subject of the report. That means preventing both false positives and false negatives. [R&A Comment – We reported in this prior blog post an example of what happens when a consumer reporting agency doesn’t follow rules for determining accuracy of records.]
The clear deprioritization of accuracy in results is unexpected, O’Loughlin said. “Without trust in the accuracy of your candidate’s background checks, how can employers make confident hiring decisions?” she asked.
Jason Morris, a background screening expert, and partner and co-founder of IQubed Advisors, an advisory firm for the background-screening industry, said that HireRight’s finding doesn’t surprise him, but the honesty behind it does. “I didn’t think employers would admit to it, but there has been a trend over the last decade of companies using background screens just to check a box and say they did it, without necessarily valuing the screening results,” he said.
Morris emphasized that accuracy must be a priority for employers. “The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are looking for accuracy,” he said. “Those agencies want to make sure that when a screener returns a hit, that the hit is accurate, or when you list a felony, it’s not really a misdemeanor.”
O’Loughlin said that “employers should weigh the benefits of an expedited hiring process against the risk of onboarding individuals without the skills and experience they claim. The cost of a bad hire should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Criminal Record Checks Considered Best Practice
Criminal record checks remain the most conducted pre-employment checks, according to the HireRight research.
Uncovering criminal records has always been the most important thing to employers conducting pre-employment screens, Morris said. “The two things are essentially synonymous,” he noted. “Identity information and past employment and education records checks are also important. Employers want to know, is the person a security risk, is the person who they say they are, and do they have the qualifications they say they have?”
In the HireRight survey, 39 percent of respondents said that previously undisclosed convictions from criminal record checks are the type of candidate discrepancy most often found during pre-employment background checks.
Social Media Screening Remains Underused
The most common reasons given for not conducting social media checks included not being required by regulation, legal concerns about the practice, being unsure how to interpret the results, and the perception that social media checks are too invasive.
“This is a big problem,” Morris said. “If you see something that falls under a protected class, how can you prove you didn’t use that against the candidate? Having a firewall between the employer and the screening firm doing the screen is of the utmost importance.”
Continuing Screening Post-Hire
Around half (52 percent) of North American employers with screening programs do not conduct post-hire screening, which might include periodic employee rescreening and/or ongoing monitoring.
“Post-hire screening is another trend that will grow in the coming years,” Morris said. “There is a big place for this—it just hasn’t caught on yet. Employees are just as likely to get in trouble while employed with the company than before they were at the company.”
“Some employers may be concerned that post-hire screening is perceived by some as too invasive or that it implies a level of suspicion,” O’Loughlin said.[R&A Comment – Some may think a background check on a current employee requires a new FCRA disclosure and authorization. Not true if your original FCRA disclosure and authorization authorized the investigation BOTH before and during employment. We can provide such a disclosure and authorization.]
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs since 1999. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about the rights of employees who test positive for marijuana, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com