Employee Screening

In an age of rising reports of identity theft, embezzlements, investment schemes, job-related accidents, violence in the workplace along with sexual predators, smart companies have no other choice but to protect their bottom line by incorporating employee screenings into their recruitment practice. Whether a company's employee screening practices includes drug testing, criminal back-ground checks, credit checks, references verification or surfing the social media sites for personal information on potential employees, all require well-trained staff to perform these highly sensitive duties.

Although employee screenings can be a costly and time-consuming part of the hiring process, companies recognize that the need to weed out potential problem personnel far out weight the expense and effort. Not implementing some type of employee screening can cost organizations more in poor performance, attendance issues, potential workplace violence, increase risk of thief and possible lawsuits. According to a recent report in HR Magazine, over 76 percent of companies use some form of employee screening when recruiting candidates. Most organizations have a third party vendor conduct the employee screening.

The depth of employee screening required depends on the industry, specific job and associated safety risks. For example, a school bus driver may have a low level position but is a high risk employee because of essential driving duties and direct contact with the children. Therefore, those applying for employment in this field of work should expect to undergo a thorough background check that may include a report of our Motor Vehicle Driving record, a drug test and most importantly a criminal background check.

Listed below are a few types of the employee screenings that maybe required as part of a company's hiring process:

  • Reference Checks- Conducted to verify work history with prior employers. May be conducted in-house or through a third-party vendor. Reference verification may be conducted by telephone, e-mail, letter or person-to-person interview(s).
  • Educational Checks - Designed to verify educational information listed on the employment application. Non-profit organizations check proof of a candidate's educational attainment, 65 percent, compared to the private sector, 37 percent, according to the Background Reference Check survey by SHRM (1/22/10).
  • Motor Vehicle Checks- Employers can work with State/county law enforcement agencies to ensure those employees who will be hired to perform transportation services or have access to the company's vehicle to perform his/her official duties have clean driving records. Most organizations do on-going MV checks to employees working in this capacity.
  • Drug Testing - Many companies use this employment screening practice to ensure employees handling equipment, vehicles, or interacting with the general public in a law enforcement capacity, will not be a liability to the employer because of use of illegal drugs. The employer must let the employee know if the test results come back positive. Many companies have a policy to conduct annual, semi-annual or unscheduled drug checks as part of the employment agreement.
  • Criminal Background Checks - Many states are prohibiting asking about criminal history during the initial application process. Equal Employment Opportunity commission wants to set tighter restrictions on employers performing background checks on those working outside of a financial or law enforcement environment...

Credit History Checks - This is, perhaps, the most controversial employee screenings conducted by employers. Many states are banning the use of credit information in determining whether a candidate is hired. The Fair Labor Standard Act, FLSA, prohibits employers from using the numerical credit score in making final employment decision.

Finally, companies view the Internet as a useful tool to gather information about your character. So, watch what you do and say on social sites-your words (and pictures) can hurt your career.


'Although employee screenings can be a costly and time-consuming part of the hiring process, companies recognize that the need to weed out potential problem personnel far out weight the expense and effort.'