Most Common Misconceptions in the Screening Process

Background screening employees and volunteers is the most effective tool at keeping your workplace safe, yet many companies – even billion dollar behemoths – make major mistakes when implementing background check procedures.

In a perfect world this important hiring procedure would be simple. But as well all know, background checks are inherently confusing for several reasons:

  • the scope of information you are trying to access
  • the numerous places you can look for this information
  • the various laws governing how that information can be obtained and what it can be used for

Here are the most common misconceptions about background screening, and some practical solutions every company can incorporate.

“All Background Checks Are The Same”

There are several ways to conduct background checks and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of screening firms. They, like the quality of the background check they may perform, are not created equally. A check can include a number of things from criminal reports and credit history, to reference and credential checks.

Not every company offers comprehensive checks. The two most common types of background checks are those performed by a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) or a fingerprint check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). An FBI fingerprint check confirms personal data like birth date, names, addresses, employment and criminal conviction history. It does not, however, paint the whole picture and can have incomplete or inaccurate information.

A background check performed by a CRA that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners will provide you the most comprehensive portfolio on your employees and volunteers. Most CRAs, including our expert team at Active Screening, rely on real researchers who actively work to track down and verify information, unlike an FBI check which just aggregates computer data that may or may not be accurate.

Finally, the screening industry is heavily regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and has plenty of consumer protection built-in. The FBI does not.

“All The Information We Need Is Online”

A recent study performed by CareerBuilder, the online job portal, shows that 51 percent of employers who research job candidates on social media say they’ve found content that led them to not hire the candidate. This is 100% risky behavior for any business.

Yes, you can find a treasure trove of information about a potential employee, from birth date to address to employment history. But you also put yourself and your company at risk since most social media profiles include information that could be considered discriminatory if you use it in a hiring decision (even if it’s not your primary source of collecting information).

A smart move is to create a written, standardized hiring policy that includes BOTH a background check performed by a CRA and an internal protocol for browsing social media sites pre-hire.

“Cheaper And Faster Is Better”

Being smart with your hiring budget is always a chief priority. This may tempt you to accept the lowest bid by the screening firm who promises you “instant results.” Beware of instances where something sounds too good to be true.

There is no single database of criminal information available, and instant checks do not exist.  Due to the careful nature of background checks and the laws regulating the collection of a person’s private information, it’s important to know that most reliable background screening providers will turn results for you in two to three days.

Prices for background checks vary. You may find background checks provided for as little as $20 or as much as $100. The best thing you can do is consult with various NAPBS-accredited providers who will listen to your needs and develop a screening plan that meets your expectations and budget.

“The Local Police Department Conducts Our Background Checks”

Police departments have a wealth of information at their disposal, but they cannot match the depth of data you need to vet a candidate. The truth is most police checks are searching only the state you are in and do not include criminal information outside of your state; Surrounding towns, states, and sex offender registries will not be included.

Additionally, most police departments only store arrest records and these are not an accurate representation of one’s criminal record (since charges or convictions may never have resulted).

If a police officer offers to screen your candidates for free through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) used in FBI fingerprint checks, politely decline. This is illegal and you both could end up in court.

Understanding the importance of background screening is vital; actually performing the right checks on your employees and volunteers is critical to keeping your company safe.

What other background check misconceptions or myths have you heard of? Share them with us here and we’ll clear the air in an upcoming ActiveCare post. Leave a comment below or Tweet us!

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, General, Human Resources, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.