Skip to content

7 Employment Screening Best Practices to Consider Before Your Next Hire


When it comes to hiring, what you don’t know really can hurt you, your employees and your company. From bad hires to legal nightmares, there are a multitude of ways employment screening can help protect your company.

But is your employment screening company following best practices? Here are seven steps you and your service provider should follow.

1. Social Security number trace

A Social Security number trace does what an honor system cannot. This trace returns all the residential addresses that have been associated with an individual for the past seven years. Ultimately, it helps direct the screener to the right local courts to do research on the applicant.

With a full list of residences, the background service provider can best determine the geographic areas and county courts that should be researched for potential criminal information. This approach takes guesswork out of the process because you’re not relying directly on the applicant to provide information on their previous residences.

2. Social Security fraud detection

While potential fraud related to use of an individual’s social security number might come up through the I-9 verification process after hiring, Social Security fraud detection is an excellent pre-employment measure that preemptively provides this information.

For example, if a social security number used by your candidate was registered in a death claim, it would provide a red flag, indicating possible fraud. This type of pre-employment detection is a real timesaver and a must for companies serious about streamlining their hiring processes.

3. Criminal background check

A thorough background check will provide you with details on a candidate’s convictions and pending charges. This way you can judge each candidate on his or her merits, not on an old or irrelevant conviction.

When considering hiring an applicant who has a criminal history, keep in mind that their offenses should be weighed against the specific job role. The EEOC recommends that you conduct an individualized assessment and consider various factors including the nature of the conviction and the relationship to the position.

Additionally, you should consider how long it’s been since the conviction occurred and the nature of a crime. If an applicant has the right qualifications, you should also give them a chance to explain the circumstances.

Based on your findings, you can make an educated decision and do what makes the most sense for your business.

4. National Sex Offender Registry check

Much like the criminal background check, a National Sex Offender Registry check is recommended as you make a hiring decision. Like the criminal background screening, the EEOC suggests that the results should be weighed against the opportunity itself when considering the applicant.

Potentially, there could be some redundancy found in a sex offender and criminal background check. However, this is a due diligence measure, and a recommended best practice that provides a secondary search and a wider reach.

5. Job history verification

While job history verification might be the most critical aspect of employment screening, it also the most often overlooked. In my experience, 40 percent of applicants misrepresent or exaggerate their experience on their application or resume to some degree.

For example, dates of employment are commonly misrepresented. Applicants tend to extend employment dates on a job to cover gaps in employment or pad their resume.

Another common resume lie is on the level of their position at a past company. For instance, an applicant might list their previous position as “director of sales.” But in the job history verification process, it’s discovered that they were actually a sales representative. As a result, they may not be qualified for the position you’re looking to fill.

Verifying details related to job history helps to protect you from making a bad hire.

6. Education verification

As you consider applicants, you need to be sure they have the proper knowledge and training to do the job you’re hiring.

For instance, you wouldn’t want to hire a CPA who doesn’t have the proper certifications.

Education verification helps to guarantee the applicant is not misrepresenting their education and putting your business at undue risk.

7. Drug screening

Drug screening is a required screening measure for some, such as employers in the transportation industry. For others, drug screening is a voluntary screening initiative taken as a part of their commitment to a drug-free workplace.

While states like Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, employers still retain the right to have a drug screening program in the U.S. Like with alcohol, which is legal to use, an employee cannot be under the influence at work.

Case and point: If you appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and your employer sent you to have an alcohol screening, and you failed, you would be held responsible. Similar standards apply to marijuana use in those states where it’s legal to use marijuana recreationally.

Not all employment screening services are the same

A good employment screening provider will offer a comprehensive package service that includes all of these best practice screening measures mentioned above. They’ll provide a consistent service and price that won’t blow up your budget.

And with a full-service package option, you can avoid a la carte pricing models. The costs for these individual services can quickly add up and ultimately be more expensive than the bundled service prices. This tends to happen the most with service providers who pass on third-party fees.

As you compare your options, another important consideration is the security of your job applicants’ personal information. Verify that your provider does not outsource their verifications, potentially putting your applicants at risk for identity theft.

Finally, as you select your employment screening service provider, consider Insperity Employment Screening. With comprehensive package options, you can help ensure your business follows best practice when it comes to pre-employment screening.