5 Background Screening Mistakes Companies Make

As an employer, you want to make the best hiring decision by recruiting the right person for the vacant position. But, when the base of your decision is entirely dependent on the information provided by the candidate and the references provided by them, it is impossible to get the entire picture of the candidate. It is unlikely that you will get relevant information pertaining to their poor driving history, financial troubles, or a criminal record if they have not included these details (and logically speaking candidates will not include these things in the resume or application). This makes it imperative for organizations to conduct background checks on prospective candidates.

But, while conducting the background check process, there are certain privacy laws that need to be strictly followed in order to protect the personal data of the individual. Even a well-intentioned employer can end up stumbling upon this protected information resulting in misinterpretation of information or making incorrect assumptions. This makes organizations miss out on a talented candidate, but the worst thing is they may face lawsuits for discrimination or invasion of privacy. This happens due to one of these background screening mistakes.

1. The problem of mistaken identity

The number mistake made during the background screening process is to mix up the identity of an individual with another person that can make you get an incorrect screening report which is based on false or inaccurate assumptions. This usually happens when the screening process is done in a hurry resulting in unexpected errors.

You can resolve this mistake by asking for a formal application from the candidate to double check their full name, social security number and also get a copy of their state-issued identity card or a federal passport. By obtaining the correct and precise information on an application or resume, you can reduce the problem of mistaken identity that can have a negative impact on the background screening process. In case, you come across a criminal history or drug charges in the report, inform the candidate and confirm whether the information is correct before going with the finalization of the report.

2. Not taking the prior written consent from the candidate before conducting the background check

This is a big mistake made by employers when it comes to conducting employment background screening. Although most of the candidates are aware that a potential employer will screen them before making an offer, according to the FCRA Act it is important to let them know about it well in advance and get a prior written consent from the candidate before starting the screening process to avoid any discriminatory lawsuit in future.

3. Intentionally ignoring the screening of temporary and contract workers

It is important that you screen each and every employee in your organization irrespective of their role and position. This includes temporary workers and contractors who are not on the full payroll of the organization. If you intentionally ignore to screen the temporary workers and contractors, it can lead to grave risk to your organization because they are not totally committed to the business practices of the organization for the long term. It can result in theft, fraud and harm the safety and reputation of the organization. It is a smart investment to screen each and every employee working in the organization, including the temporary workers and contractors to prevent costly mistakes in the future.

4. Wrong time of conducting the screening

This is a huge mistake made by the employers. Conducting the screening process at the beginning of the hiring process can mean that there is a great chance of rejecting a candidate well in advance if you find any discrepancy in the report. Once you meet the candidate in person, shake their hand and look into their eyes, you get a feel for the person. This makes you feel about giving another chance to the candidate if in case anything wrong comes up in the screening report. Many employers fail to recognize this fact and try to conduct the screening process far too early making them lose out on potential talented candidate. Avoid this mistake by conducting the background screening process once you have completed at least a couple of rounds of interviews. This will give you ample of time to get relevant information about the candidate which can be used to evaluate the results in the reports.

5. Over reliance on social media

It has been estimated that more than 75% of employers globally look at the social media profiles of the candidate while making a hiring decision. These employers claim that they evaluate their profiles to determine the overall character of the candidate. But, the problem with social media screening is that you can get additional information like religion, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation etc. which can create an unnecessary bias in the hiring process. There is also no way to unsee things that you see on social media. This makes the experts propagate refraining from using social media as a medium to take hiring decisions.


To avoid making these mistakes, it is important that you hire an employee background verification company that can help you find precise information pertaining to the candidate in a swift and efficient manner. It should also have requisite knowledge of the legal implications pertaining to background checks, thereby understanding the different laws to avoid assessing the information that you are not authorized to see. With so much at stake on the outcome of the screening process, it is important to ensure that the process is done correctly within the boundaries of the laws affecting it.

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