How can human resource specialists make the most informed hiring decisions?

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Answered by: Anna, An Expert in the Recruiting and Hiring Category
As a human resources professional, it is your job to make sure that you execute the best, most informed hiring decisions possible. Every applicant must be screened using accurate, up to date and legal resources. Utilizing the help of a licensed, reputable firm specializing in pre-employment screening should be your first step in any personnel hiring decision. Today's businesses cannot afford to take chances with their credibility, profit margins or the safety of their staff by not investigating applicants. An astonishing number of companies, however, still do not perform even the most basic of background checks. The costs of performing screenings should be considered a basic cost of doing business, not an optional or unnecessary outlay; hiring someone with a past that could potentially cause your organization liability could be far more expensive.

What Information Should Be Contained in a Pre-Employment Screening Report?Depending on the industry and the position for which the applicant is being hired, the very minimum that should be processed is a criminal history. Sex offender registries should be searched for those positions that may involve contact with children. A motor vehicle report would be appropriate for someone who may have use of a company vehicle or travel for business.

The Food and Drug Administration maintains a debarment list that names those individuals who have been sanctioned for any type of pharmaceutical fraud- helpful information to know if you are hiring for a medical office or anywhere that the individual may have access to controlled substances. Educational credentials are also important to verify if the position requires a certain degree level: fraud is rampant in this area because so many human resource offices do not validate the information with the institution cited on a resume. Special licenses or certifications that the individuals have indicated that they hold should also be verified through the appropriate agency.

Credit histories are another possible tool to making an informed hiring decision. This is more appropriate for higher profile executives, employees that will be given control of financial information, those with access to cash or inventory and prospective franchisees. Professional references are another useful tool. A good screening firm has trained professionals who know the right questions to ask of past employers in order to get the most insight into who you may be hiring. Personal references are optional but more than likely a waste of time and expense. Most people are not going to list a reference that would give them anything less than a stellar recommendation, however they may be useful if you want to give the applicant an opportunity to ‘name drop’.

Laws differ by state so it is important to work with a firm that is familiar with what is reportable back to you and what information you can use to make a hiring decision. Pre-employment background screenings may not reveal everything that you would like to know about a potential new hire: after all, there is no magic database that will tell you if someone is not reputable or just not a “good fit” for your firm.

There may be no criminal history to clue you in. But this type of screen combined with the professional and intuitive skills that you have honed as decision maker can certainly help weed through the individuals that could cause your firm loss, harm or legal ramifications.

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