Employment Background Check Guidelines: #4
Background-checking firms: Sort out the best from the rest
Not too long ago, just a few dozen companies offered employment background check, credit background check and criminal check services. But the industry mushroomed in size and scope—though not necessarily quality—after post-9/11 security concerns and ethics scandals drove up the demand for increased background screening.
The result: Nearly 1,000 vendors are in the screening industry now, making it difficult to sort out the top tier from the fly-by-night firms. Many sell cheap but incomplete background checks in minutes. Too often, they simply restate old information bought from private data brokers with no guarantee the data are current or correct.
Follow the benchmarks for gauging background-screening providers in Employment Background Check Guidelines.
Employment Background Check Guidelines: #5
Screening candidates: To Google or not to Google?
HR professionals and managers increasingly use search engines and social networking sites (like Facebook) to dig beyond the typical résumé and cover letter. Many of the “red flags” uncovered include Web postings by the candidates themselves—postings that the person obviously didn’t expect job recruiters ever to see.
The problem: Googling candidates can carry certain legal risks.
What if you Google only minorities? What if you inadvertently view information about a different person with the same name? What if your search shows a picture of the person in a wheelchair? All scenarios could raise discrimination charges if you reject the candidate. Two tips to avoid such legal risks:
1. Make sure you’ve got the right person. Even relatively rare names are duplicated, and many tall tales exist in cyberspace. “The way to deal with that is to bring (the Google result) to the person’s attention,” says Joe Beachboard, an employment lawyer with Ogletree Deakins in California. “I would always give the person the opportunity to confirm or deny it.”
2. Be consistent with your searches. As with other recruiting tools, you shouldn’t discriminate when Googling based on the person’s race, age, gender or name (national origin bias). Realize that Googling may pull up photos, which means you may have to explain whether you considered the individual’s race/age/disability in your hiring decision.
Employment Background Check Guidelines: #6
How to protect yourself from Internet-related liability
When employers gather information about job candidates through websites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, they expose themselves to discriminatory failure-to-hire lawsuits.
When it comes to discrimination, ignorance is often bliss. It’s impossible for an employer to discriminate based on information it does not have. Usually, employers take care not to ask applicants about their age, race, gender, disability or other protected characteristics. But viewing a candidate’s Facebook page may provide some of that information—and possibly much more. By accessing such information, the employer loses the ability to claim ignorance.
On the other hand, using the Internet in an employment background check can provide valuable information that the employer might not otherwise learn. Employers need to balance the risks and benefits.
Advice: Don’t consider the Web a reliable substitute for traditional hiring practices. A YouTube video may provide a glimpse of a candidate’s personality, but a face-to-face interview will probably reveal much more of a candidate’s true personality. Plus, it won’t expose your company to liability.