10 Tips for Conducting Better Background Checks

University, school and hospital security professionals can work with their human resources departments to establish background screening policies that are fair and equitable to everyone. Consistency and clear documentation as well as the best practices that follow are the keys to acceptance of a policy that protects the public and staff while making a campus more secure.

It is critical that institutions not simply check databases and local county records, but also check the counties and surrounding counties where applicants have lived, been employed previously and/or gone to school. If all of these county court records have been thoroughly checked, then a national criminal database check will provide a helpful supplementary step.

4. Verify Education, Credentials and Employment
Roughly one-third of all resumes contain some kind of misrepresentation in terms of employment history, education or experience. Since education and experience requirements are often key to higher education or healthcare employment, it is crucial to verify a candidate’s credentials.

Educational credentials should be verified at the source, and unfamiliar institutions should be checked against databases of known diploma mills. If questions arise, ask the candidate for proof of matriculation in the form of class notes, papers and other records.

5. Require Proof of Earnings From Potential Employees
Salary history is one of the most frequently misrepresented facts during the interview process. If the previous employer will not provide salary information during pre-employment screening, insist that the applicant provide proof of earnings for the previous three years in the form of W-2s or pay stubs.

6. Order Motor Vehicle Reports for All Candidates
While it is critical to obtain a motor vehicle records (MVR) report on all employees who will operate an institution’s vehicle or machinery or drive on the campus, savvy institutions order this report for every candidate. A candidate’s driving record can provide a glimpse of habits that might increase the liability risk for the institution. Before requesting an MVR search, however, verify your state’s laws. Some states consider MVR information to be confidential and will only release it if the individual’s job function includes the operation of a commercial vehicle.

7. Conduct International Background Checks
The workforce has become more global than ever before, and it is a best practice to check the backgrounds of all applicants who were born, educated or have worked outside the United States. Often, healthcare providers and university faculty members fall into this category as many have spent time studying or working overseas.

To make international checks a seamless process, partner with an employment-screening provider with the expertise, experience and re
ach to conduct checks in any country that may be required.

8. Check Vendors, Contractors and Temps
Since vendors, contractors and temporary employees who work on healthcare and educational campuses may have access to institutional information systems, they should be held to the same security standards as full-time employees. Mitigate security breaches and negative incidents by extending your screening program to assure that part-time faculty, vendors, contractors and temporary employees clear a background check before they are granted access to your facilities.

9. Protect Against Negligent Retention of Employees
It is estimated that the average award in a negligent hiring and retention lawsuit today in the United States is slightly more than $1 million. In order to reduce organizational risk, you should consider conducting post-hire background screening in addition to pre-employment screening.

10. Reassess Your Background Check System Regularly
Once a screening program is established, review it to determine its vulnerability. Are there areas of slowdown or complexity that might prompt staff to skip steps? Are there gaps in the geography or depth of the searches? Does the program meet the requirements of all pertinent mandates and laws?

Once the program is up and running, regular audits should be done to be certain that people responsible for checking backgrounds at all geographic locations are doing so according to policy. Audits also will help identify any employees who slip through the cracks without a completed background check.

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Ron Lashier is vice president of national accounts for employment screening provider HireRight. For more information, contact HireRight at (800) 400-2761 or www.hireright.com.


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