October 7th, 2014 | Sterling
Q&A With Richard Seldon
Our very own Richard Seldon, President, sat down with Scott Passeser of Executive Alliance on Radio Jobline to discuss background checks. Today, we bring you some key highlights and excerpts of the interview, including several questions that are on the minds of many clients and job applicants.
The Trusty Ol’ Reference Check
I’m a staffing guy so when I’m doing a project and when I finally find a candidate, the company says “let’s check his references” so I’ll get three references and I’ll give those folks a call. I know that they’ve been hand-picked by the candidate and I wonder how much faith people are putting in the actual reference part. Is that part of the services that you provide?
Yes, it’s part of it. It’s just a segment of the overall scope of a search. In addition to validating someone’s work history and experience, we’re finding that what employers are really looking for is a thorough criminal search. And that’s really the nucleus of the employment screen. Does this person have felony convictions? Do they have misdemeanor convictions? Are we dealing with someone who is a registered sex offender? As well as what are the skills that are necessary for the position?
We’re looking to make sure we validate what the individual has put on the employment application or their resume. We’re validating prior employment. There’s also education validation and then there are checks that could include professional licenses, depending upon the position that the person is looking for. Overall what we’ve seen over the years is that the scope of the search has increased. Companies have a thirst for more information because the risks and costs of a bad hire have been well-documented and getting it right the first time is really what it’s all about.
Drug Testing: Past & Present
Can we talk about drug screening for a minute? Has it changed at all? Are they still looking for the same thing when they’re running your blood or urine? Is it the same as it was 10 years ago?
I’d say some things are different. The process for how companies can get their results has changed, but let’s go to the applicant or employee’s side for a minute. The majority of the work that we do is referred to as pre-employment drug testing. The overwhelming majority of the pre-employment drug testing is a urine sample. There are standard panels that the major drug labs use. If the sample comes back negative, the potential employer could find out the results the very next day. That hasn’t changed all that much.
Depending upon the industry, there are some companies that have different programs beyond pre-employment drug testing, which can be post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and random drug testing in certain states and again, this is industry specific.
On the employer side the process has become entirely electronic. We put together an entire electronic system to be able to deliver the result of the drug test in conjunction with the background check. It’s a one-source solution. If you’re looking at our results on our website or getting them through an integration with an Applicant Tracking System, you can see Scott Passeser and his background check as well as his drug test.
When Credit Checks are Relevant
The question that brings me to is we’ve got a background check, we’ve got a credit check. Am I right? Are they still doing credit checks?
Credit checks are still done. They are position-specific and by that, we generally see them being done for positions related to financial services. Some states have brought about some laws that make the use of the credit report more restrictive than in the past. These are for employment purposes only. There is not a numerical score which most people are familiar with if they went for a car loan or something like that. So are credit reports still utilized? Yes, but I would say probably to a lesser degree than when we’ve spoken in the past.
Like you keep saying, it would be industry specific so perhaps something with banking would more likely want to look at your credit.
Absolutely and again, it’s position specific. So if you’re going to hire a CFO, treasurer, or controller, most companies are going to want to make sure the applicant knows how to manage their own money before they manage the business’ money.
Words of Wisdom for Job Applicants
Let’s talk about the standpoint of the applicant for a second. I know that there are applicants who do have a little scrape with the law when they’re early in their lives. So my question is, should people always, always, always be honest about their status with being arrested or having some kind of record. Or is it better not to even bring up the whole hornet’s nest and sort of skip over it. What do you recommend?
Well that’s an easy one for me, honestly. You should honestly and ethically answer the questions on the employment application. Once you start to deviate from the truth, you’re putting yourself in peril, especially because you’re about to sign that document attesting to the fact that everything that you’ve provided your potential employer is truthful. So you need to do that. That does not mean even if you’ve gotten yourself in trouble that you’re not going to get the position.
What companies need to do first of all is to make sure the questions on their employment application are the appropriate questions to ask. Once the results are provided from us back to the company, then these results have to be reviewed and what companies need to look at is the position that the person has applied for. If they do have a conviction, then what was the conviction for? How long ago was the conviction? Is there a relationship between the conviction and the position?
So going back to your original question, should people just tell it like it is and this is what happened? If the question is asked on the employment application is such that they require to do so, then the answer would be yes.
Social Media in the Hiring Process
Are you doing anything now with social media? A lot of people now, their resumes have a certain chronology of companies and experience and sometimes you look at their LinkedIn profiles and it’s different. Is that now criteria? Do with do anything with social media in background checks?
Yes, I would say that it’s still in its relative infancy from a formality standpoint, but gaining some traction. Recruiters and hiring managers are absolutely, either before or after the interview, looking at LinkedIn, Facebook and so forth, and just trying to get an idea of what a person is like outside of the workplace. Now we do have clients that have put policies in place to do actual social media searches and we do offer that service now; however again, it is in its relative infancy. I believe over time it’s something that’s going to grow.
What we’re seeing now is companies wanting to monitor employees over the lifecycle of employment. We’ve launched a new service called Employee Risk Alerts (ERA), and we’re able to offer a service where we can report to the employer if someone has been arrested and/or convicted during employment so they can follow the case. We’re the first company in the world to be able to do this. If you think about it, why is it any less important if someone is arrested or convicted while they’re employed than when they’re applying for the job?
To listen to the entire interview, including more on background screening and how SterlingBackcheck can enhance your pre-employment screening program, please visit SterlingBackcheck on SoundCloud.
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