Screening for potential problems before they are hired-Part 1

There is a lot of confusion over conducting background checks for both employers and prospective employees. What do/can I check on this one and not on that one? To most non Hr people, it can get befuddling. I’m hoping these posts will help you to take some of the confusion out.

I’m not a HR expert, and never claimed to be, but from a security stand point I can tell you what I believe needs to be checked on most all applicants. What I can tell you is give you some broad parameters of what to check and why.

To reiterate a point I made in May, if you don’t check the backgrounds of your employees you could possibly be letting yourself, and the company, in for lawsuits that could force bankruptcy. The following link is for your security program but it illustrates the issues fairly well for all of your prospective employees.


Criminal Background Checks

This is probably the most important of all of the checks you’ll do. Does that potential employee have a violence problem? Maybe a substance abuse problem? How about a DWI? In some cases these can stop you from hiring someone. In others… eh, not so much.

If you are hiring an individual with frequent contact with customers such as a call center or front line customer service, then you may want to reevaluate someone with a violent history. Of course the history will have a lot to do with it as well. Violence against animals and non-assault crimes may not matter, although cruelty to animals is a workplace violence warning sign. On the other hand, if you discover they have a DWI and they’re not going to be driving for you on the job, then it probably won’t matter.


Credit Checks

With laws concerning the use of credit checks in hiring employees, you have to be careful with them. You can no longer deny someone a job with a bad credit history, unless they are applying for specific jobs dealing with financial instruments. You can use it, however, as an additional tool in making your decision.

If you are hiring for a security job, and the post that you’re assigning them to is a high value facility, then you probably wouldn’t hire them for that post. If you do hire them for an assignment and then items become missing, including high value items…



If the job requires a Master’s degree and you are paying $50,000 for it and someone with only a Bachelor’s lies to get the position  what does that cost you? Probably at least $10,000 plus benefits, and then there is the recruiting costs which can be in excess of $20,000.

You need to be checking the status of anyone that says they have a degree and you are hiring for a job with those necessary qualifications. Additionally, the embarrassment of having someone else finds out this info rather than you/company isn’t good for public relations or the company’s reputation.

If all you require is a high school diploma then you should be okay in accepting their word in that. However, if you are looking for specific certifications/training, then it is advisable to ask for their certificates or check for yourself thru the institution, which brings up the next point.


Professional Certifications

Whether you require it or not, you may want to check on the applicants professional certifications, if they have used it for the application or in the interview. Many times, you may not even need these certifications for the job you’re hiring for. However, if they claim to have a nursing, real estate, teaching, or other certification it goes to their credibility if they actually have it. If they lied about having a certification and they don’t actually have it…

If they tout it during the interview, or even the application, and it has been suspended/revoked, you may want to think twice or at the very least investigate. Some licenses may be under investigation or otherwise restricted which can also be a huge red flag in the hiring process.

There are many different certifications in the world. Some hold real meaning, as in the CPP, CFP, or CCRN, and some don’t. It is up to HR and departmental managers/VP hopefully, to determine whether or not a specific certification is necessary. And I can’t emphasize this enough, check with the certifying authority to see if they have issued one to that person.


Motor Vehicle

This is an area that must be checked if an employee will be utilizing a company or client vehicle, or their own, for the job.

If an employee of yours is driving a company/client vehicle, what would happen if they get into an accident, then what? If it come to light that their license was suspended or revoked, for any reason, such as having several accidents due to recklessness, speeding, DWI, or whatever? Who is on the hook for any damages which could add up to at the very least thousands possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars, and if someone was injured or killed? Certainly not the employee, and if it was the client’s vehicle, you may lose the account… or worse get sued at the same time.

(The 2nd part of this series will be next week and look for a guest post on background screening from a company that specializes in that afterward)

Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues. You can follow him on his Facebook page,, or twitter@robertsollars2.

                           I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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