Finding a qualified candidate can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. So, when you finally come across that perfect candidate, you want to get them all settled in ASAP. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works. Hiring is a complex task with many moving parts—background checks, drug tests, information verification. Talk about exhausting! But luckily, for most of us, this long process pays off in the end, resulting with quality employees and a safer work environment.

Don’t let this process become a daunting one. Check out our handy guide to a successful employment screening below.

1. Ask detailed questions.

Did you know that you can start your employment screening before you even extend an offer? That’s right; the process of screening an employee can start during the candidate’s initial interview. You can get a good feel for a person’s experience by asking questions that require specific details. If a resume shows broad unanswered statements, ask questions that require details about the specific event (e.g., How did you end up with the stated results? What was your specific role at this event?). If your interviewee isn’t confident in their answers or can’t answer at all, that could be a red flag for false claims.

2. Acquire appropriate authorization.

It's important to know that you legally cannot perform a background check unless you have received authorization from the candidate. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that regulates background reports for employment in addition to other regulations depending on your location. Asking for this type of authorization from the start is recommended. Should you decide to move forward with the potential employee, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. If you are unsure of what type of consent that is required for your city/state, consult with a legal professional to ensure that you obtain the correct authorization.

3. Don’t believe everything you read.

According to a , 56% of more than 2,500 hiring managers have caught job candidates lying on their resumes. The most common of these lies seems to be embellishing skills or capabilities; 62% of respondents say they’ve come across this, and 54% say they’ve caught applicants taking liberties when describing the scope of their responsibilities. Shockingly, a quarter of the respondents said they've seen people who claim to be employed by companies they never really worked for. While these statistics are quite alarming, they should provide you with the assurance that conducting background checks and verifying information is essential in today’s society.

4. Don’t pick and choose.

At some point, most companies will have employees that aren’t technically their “employees”—think contracted employees. If and when this happens, it is best practice to run the same employment screening on them as you would with any other potential employee. You may come across information that a third-party hiring agency overlooked or possibly didn’t even think about since they do not know your company's culture and standards. So, don’t leave anyone feeling left out! Run those screenings on contractors, vendors, interns—basically anyone who will be working within your organization.

5. Set your policies and stick to them.

Employment screenings are essential, but they become useless if you don’t take the appropriate action based on the results. Designing a plan for once a red flag is noted on a candidate is one of, if not the most important steps to a successful employment screening.

  • If you are in an industry where money is constantly handled by employees and a candidate’s credit history doesn’t seem up to par, would you still hire them?

  • What is the lowest score that would be acceptable to pass them onto the next phase of the hiring process?

  • Are your standard policies higher than the results you received?

These are some of the questions that you must ask yourself in order to set your companies policies. And of course, you must also remember to stick with them no matter how much it may sting to let a seemingly good candidate go. Please remember though, under the FCRA several notices must be given to an applicant/employee in the event adverse information contained in a background check may cause you to deny employment or terminate their employment (the “pre-adverse action” notice) or has caused you to deny someone employment or to terminate an existing employee’s employment (the “adverse action” notice). As stated above, if you are unsure what notices must be given and the timing for the same, you should consult with a legal professional to ensure you are in full compliance with the provisions of the FCRA and any state/local requirements imposed on employers. 

A well thought-out employment screening plan can save your company both time and money by weeding out potential problem employees. Establish what is important for your company and what type of environment you want to provide to current and future staff. Once you have a plan in place and implemented it into the hiring process for every employee, you’ll be able to easily tweak what verification and information you require based on a specific job. So, save yourself any future heartache and set up a successful employment screening plan today!