Many employers conduct pre-employment screenings of job applicants. Employers often outsource all or part of these evaluations to private third-party organizations that specialize in background screening.
Government agencies like the Department of Transportation and the FBI also provide services to employers investigating criminal and driving records.
How do employers screen job applicants to determine which applicants to interview and hire?
Job Applicant Pre-Employment Screening
Pre-Employment screening is designed to verify information supplied by candidates on their resumes and applications. Investigations are also conducted to uncover character flaws and criminal tendencies that might jeopardize the employer, tarnish its reputation, endanger staff, or limit the effectiveness of the candidate. Screening is often done to determine if employees can be trusted to manage financial resources or protect sensitive or confidential information.
Criminal History Screening – Many states have laws dictating how criminal information can be used in the evaluation of candidates. The FBI and State Identification Agencies provide services to help businesses investigate the criminal background of candidates when appropriate.
Social Security Number Tracing – Utilized to verify the validity of social security information used for credit and criminal checks.
Drug Testing – Employers must test all applicants if they conduct drug testing and do so in accordance with state law. Drug testing has become a common practice to ascertain the trustworthiness of prospective employees, avoid workplace injuries, and ensure that hires will be productive employees.
Lie Detector Tests – The Employee Polygraph Protection Act prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests for pre-employment. The law includes a list of exceptions that apply to businesses that provide armored car services, alarm or guard services, or those that manufacture, distribute, or dispense pharmaceuticals.
Worker’s Compensation Claims History – Appeals are publicly accessible and may be used for employment purposes if they provide evidence that an injury would make it impossible for a candidate to carry out her duties.
Credit History – Many employers consider the credit status of candidates to determine if financial problems might impact their trustworthiness or be evidence of irresponsible behavior. Employers must secure the consent of applicants and provide access to findings if they are used to screen out an applicant. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates employer investigations into the credit history of job applicants.
Sex Offender Registry Screening – Employers seek to avoid hiring individuals who might endanger staff or damage their reputation. Searches can be conducted through federal and state registries for sex offenders.
Motor Vehicle Records Screening – Most often this type of screening will be done when employees utilize a motor vehicle to carry out their job responsibilities in areas like sales, delivery, and trucking.
Skills or Personality Assessments – Some employers will administer tests to determine if applicants have the right skills or personality orientation to carry out a particular job. Tests may include multiple-choice instruments as well as assessments to evaluate manual dexterity, programming, editing, writing, spreadsheet, word processing, or other technical skills.
Employment Verification – Employers will often check each of the jobs listed on your resume and applications to make sure that the job title, dates of employment, and other details are accurate. Your past employers may have policies limiting their response to these inquiries. All workers in the United States are required to prove their identity and eligibility to work in the country by completing an I-9 Employment Verification Form.
Supervisor/Reference Interviews – Employers will usually ask for written recommendations and/or they will interview your references to assess your readiness to carry out the job for which you are applying. Most organizations will ask for permission to speak with past supervisors as part of this process.
Education Verification – Employers will often want to verify your degree, major and academic performance prior to finalizing a hire, especially for entry-level jobs. Candidate must indicate their consent for schools to release records under The Family Right to Privacy Act.
When employers conduct a check of your background (credit, criminal, past employer) or use a third party to do so, the background check is covered by The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).