What You Should Know About Instant Background Checks

What many employers, and even individuals who want to check up on an individual’s arrest and conviction record fail to understand is that instant background checks rarely, if ever, give you a full or accurate picture of that individual. Remember that these are paid sites that do not have the background check expertise factored into their database searches. For one, it may be a case of mistaken identity, if a given employer chooses the “quick search” route and discovers that his “Michael L. Smith” was arrested for bank robbery five years ago. This presents a two-fold dilemma: 1) Your candidate may not even be that Michael L. Smith, and 2) He was only arrested, not convicted.

Using the Proper Search Criteria

As stated, most instant, online background check apps use flimsy search parameters, and likely will not give a remotely accurate picture of your employment candidate. Keeping in line with the new “Ban the Box” laws which have gone into effect in Philadelphia, among over 100 other U.S. cities and counties, the tendency is now for employers and employment candidates alike to realize that no longer can someone with the right skills for the job, but with an unfortunate name or past, like the same name as a convict, an arrest, or even conviction older than seven years, be dismissed so readily. A true background search should only be done through a company with the credentials and data-crunching power to sift through counterfeit or inaccurate data to find the truth about a given candidate’s background.

New Laws, Accurate Methods

Increasingly, business owners are realizing that the old ways of deciding on a job candidate’s worthiness, specifically by using the one-dimensional “box” on an application, is outmoded, inaccurate, and not in their best interests. It’s obsolete anyway, because even if an interviewee checkmarks “No” to the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”, an instant background check may reveal something completely different, painting that person a liar in the HR staff or business owner’s eyes. Neither the box nor instant background searches, then, prove to be accurate. Only a multi-tiered search utilizing specific search criteria will get you accuracy on a given employment candidate. In this light, instant background searches are nothing more than a novelty, there to make certain websites money, and peddle inaccurate data.

Understanding Background Checks

The door can swing the other way, too. If you go too lenient during an employee screening process, you can put your company and other employees at risk for any number of things. Violence in the workplace, theft, or other fraud or malfeasance can occur after you’ve hired them on, and then what? There’s a happy middle ground that you have to achieve, where you are being both thorough and accurate, but also fair to the potential employee. Only through a professional, outsourced background check can this really occur. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know a candidate after having done a flimsy, instant background check online. You’ll want to avoid the common employment screening pitfalls others experience.

Why are online background checks so fraught with inaccuracies? It can be a number of things, including:

  • Databases not being properly updated.
  • They provide only arrest records, nothing else
  • It is not a reputable screener/company
  • Online screener does not use info from all jurisdictions, states, etc.

There are potentially more hazards for employers now than candidates, when background checks are initiated. Does your human resources department have all the bases covered? This is knowledge that could benefit you with an outstanding new employee who just happens to share the name of a convicted felon, just as much as it could jeopardize you.

Knowledge is Power

And this is precisely why you do the background checks–because you carry a certain status and power, and rightly want to preserve it. The wrong candidate could “go postal” if hired, and then later dismissed for something characteristic of a violent, temperamental, or malcontent personality. Conversely, the right candidate, found by foregoing an instant background check, and going through the proper channels, will grace your company and staff with their presence, where a cheap and easy search may have caused their being overlooked for the job.

The Right Candidate is Worth Waiting For

We all want to maximize our time usage, and we tend to cut corners on certain things in order to “trim the fat”. An employee background screening shouldn’t ever be one of them. Even the most outstanding resume and appearance can be deceiving. There have been many cases where a recidivist offender snuck past normally stringent procedures and policies because of a charming demeanor. Don’t let appearances fool you: smile, shake their hand, be polite–but be thorough. You will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised–both at screening out the right parties, and hiring the right parties, due to a thorough employee screening process, outsourced through a company like VerifyProtect.

Verify, Protect and Defend Your Assets

With a company like VerifyProtect screening your candidate pool, you can be assured that our nearly 30 years of expertise will serve you well. How do we do this? By utilizing “True Match” background search resources and criteria that ensure only the best and most qualified candidates board your company ship. Don’t get compromised–or compromise potentially great employees–through a substandard background check and candidate screening process. Contact us today for an estimate, and we will return your query as soon as possible!

Kristina Taylor
In 1989, Kristina began her career as a customer service representative at the newly formed American Tenant Screen, Inc. Ten years later, she pioneered tenant background screening on the Internet. As a long-standing member of the National Multifamily Resident Information Council (formerly the National Association of Screening Agencies) Kristina gains insight into the trends of the tenant screening industry to better understand the current and future needs of their clients.

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