So, you’ve sifted through dozens of resumes, conducted several phone interviews,
completed three face-to- face interviews, and you have a candidate you’d like to make an offer to. Do you conduct a background check on the candidate? And if so, when should this step happen in the hiring process? And why?
Benefits of Background Checks
Background checks are an important part of the hiring process and should be standard procedure. Information you need to make a more informed decision is gleaned from the background check report. As a responsible employer, it is important that you protect your current team from a potentially dangerous situation that may be revealed in the new candidate’s report. And if, for example, the report reveals the candidate has a history of violent tendencies, you don’t want to expose your current team members to a dangerous situation.
Another benefit of conducting background checks is discovering whether or not the candidate’s driving record is acceptable to your risk insurance company should the candidate be added to your policy to drive a company vehicle and/or drive their personal car for company business.
All of this information is needed before the candidate starts work, not after.
When should background checks be completed?
Background checks should be completed post offer/pre-employment. Legally, a company can ask a candidate to sign a release giving the company permission to conduct a background review once a formal offer is made to the candidate. Generally, there is a one to two week period between when a candidate accepts your offer and must serve out their two-week notice to their current employer. Background checks can be completed during this time.
If the background report reveals information that is not acceptable to move forward with the offer, then the employer can rescind the offer of employment, as long as the candidate has not actually started working. If you jump ahead of the process and allow the candidate to start work before the background report comes back, then you cannot rescind the offer as the candidate is an actual employee once they begin their first minute of work with your company.
Consequences of a rushed background check
A recent client contacted Close HR to request a background check on a candidate. We facilitated the request aware (and with the client aware) that most background checks take 24 to 48 hours to turnaround. The check was initiated on a Friday afternoon with the results expected by end of business on Monday. The candidate’s start date communicated in the offer letter indicated Wednesday allowing for the report to come back before the candidate first day of work. However, the client decided over the weekend to have the candidate start working on Monday morning, anticipating a “good” report. The client did not communicate this change in start date to Close HR (so that we might have weighed in and advised the client of the employment risks regarding the decision). And unfortunately, the background check report came back Monday afternoon with concerning information that was not acceptable for a new hire, so Close HR initiated a call with the client.
During the call, the client revealed the accelerated start date and indicated the candidate had started working first thing Monday morning. The client was then very concerned about the information they learned from the report, and wanted to rescind the employment offer and let the person go. However, the candidate was now an official employee (because they began work Monday morning) and legally the company could not rescind the offer based on the information from the background check report.
Background Check Timeline
The following is the recommended timeline/process for conducting background checks:
- Present a formal offer to the candidate.
- Ask the candidate to complete the background check release form.
- Submit the background check request to a reputable (Beware of free websites and/or only using social media.)
- The background check report comes back within 24 to 48 hours.
- Review the report for any concerns. If there are issues, address them with the candidate and give them an opportunity to clarify the concern(s).
- If all is well, proceed with the hiring process, bringing the candidate onboard with the company.
- If all is not well and there are business-related concerns, rescind the offer and restart the search for another candidate.
Background Checks are a good investment not only in helping to determine if the
candidate is a good fit for the organization, but are also worth the time, money, and effort
to protect your current team members and business.
* * *
Should you have further questions or need assistance with background checks, Close HR Connections can help.