When you hire a new employee, do you perform a background check? If you're like the vast majority of other companies in the U.S., chances are that you do.
According to a new survey by HR.com and the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, background checks are nearly universal among employers, who turn to these pre-employment screenings largely to ensure the safety of their workplaces.
Most employers rely on pre-employment screenings
In the U.S, background checks and the hiring process go hand-in-hand. After all, these forms of pre-employment screenings help hiring managers ensure that a candidate's application was accurate and provide insight into the person's past, preventing unpleasant surprises down the road.
Depending on the workplace and industry, this process may include drug tests, credit history checks, criminal history screenings, motor vehicle records checks and more. Some employers turn to government agencies, such as the FBI or Department of Transportation, or private third-party screening organizations to ensure that their potential new hire doesn't have a criminal record or other red flags that could impact his or her workplace performance.
If you're a hiring manager, HR professional or otherwise involved in the hiring process at your workplace, you've likely viewed the results of one of these screenings. And if so, you are far from alone, according to NAPBS's new survey.
Frequency of employment background checks
HR.com was commissioned by NAPBS to conduct a national survey that looked at how companies approach the background screening process to identify trends and best practices in today's economy. In total, 1,528 human resources professionals, who collectively had operations in all 50 states, participated.
"96% of employers conduct at least one type of background screening."
The research confirmed that background checks are a standard part of the hiring process in the U.S. In fact, 96 percent of the employers surveyed by HR.com reported that their companies conduct at least one type of employment background screening. Those who turn to an alternative forms of screenings or skip any form altogether are by far the minority.
Though each organization that performs these pre-employment screenings chooses its own criteria, some types are more common than others. The following were performed for all or some employees by the surveyed organizations:
- Database/national criminal (93 percent)
- County/statewide criminal searches (97 percent)
- Fingerprint based criminal (78 percent)
- Social Security number trace (87 percent)
- Credit/financial (87 percent)
- Education verification (75 percent)
- Motor vehicle driving records (68 percent)
- Drug and alcohol testing (82 percent)
- Sex offender registry (80 percent)
- Professional license verification (76 percent)
- International checks (83 percent)
Only 4 percent reported that they do not conduct employment background checks. Of those in this category, 29 percent said that cost is the motivating factor in skipping background checks, but an almost equal number – 27 percent – couldn't give a reason.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the organizations that don't conduct background checks don't look into their candidates' histories at all. The survey revealed that 37 percent use other methods or tools to screen their applicants.
Employers are driven by safety
Though employment background checks are nearly universal among employers of all sizes, their reason for leveraging these screenings can vary.
The most common reason, by far, is safety. In the survey, 89 percent reported that they conduct background checks for the purpose of protecting their employees, customers and others.
Other common reasons that respondents cited for screening were:
- Improving the quality of hires (52 percent)
- Protecting the company's reputation (45 percent)
- Complying with laws or regulations (44 percent)
Though these reasons are important, employers usually try to wait until the field has been narrowed down to perform a background check. A strong majority – 86 percent – wait until after the job interview, including 55 percent that put it off even longer and only perform the check after a conditional job offer is made.
And these screenings are tied very closely to the process of bringing on new employees. Among respondents who conduct background checks, 57 percent only perform them during hiring.
Hiring your next employee
If you're already thinking about your next hire, the process of background checks may feel overwhelming, especially if you need to screen multiple candidates.
Luckily, you don't need to complete the process on your own. Consider partnering with Global HR to work with professionals who know just what to look for in pre-employment screenings. To learn more about how Global HR can be your strongest resource when it comes to identifying, screening and hiring qualified candidates, contact us today.