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Steve Girdler


Managing Director, EMEA

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Checking the facts: why background screening is crucial


We may be facing a skills shortage, but that doesn’t mean we should settle for subpar standards when hiring new candidates. Hiring talent is resource intensive and business critical.

Although HR teams are under increasing pressure to recruit quickly to ensure the best people are not lost to other businesses – while also providing a slick candidate experience – it is important to make the right recruitment decisions.

Staying vigilant throughout the process is crucial and this requires recruiters to stay up-to-date with the latest laws and regulations affecting hiring in their industry.

The importance of background screening

Talent is the lifeblood of any business and ensuring the right people are hired to fill skills gaps and grow a business is a core challenge of any HR team.

The question is, who are the right people? It can happen that a candidate who impresses on paper and wows at interview is not all they seem.

Background screening candidates ensures every new hire possess the skills and experience they claim to have, so businesses can be sure they have done everything they can to manage the risk of recruitment and make the right decision.  

Poor hires risk loss of productivity, wasted efforts on training, increased staff turnover or even long-term damage to the business’s reputation.

Where mistakes lie

HireRight’s recent research found that candidates are most likely to include incorrect employment dates on applications (26% of errors in 2016), with a further 23% misrepresenting qualification completion dates.

However, a more worrying trend of false claims exists – with 16% of applicants not actually holding a position they claimed to, and 4% misrepresenting the grade they achieved.

With a number of upcoming regulations soon to impact the screening process, now is the time to ensure that candidate checks are legally appropriate.

Background checks can be flexible to fit the needs of the business and role. Senior positions may require further checks than those in graduate positions and candidates with access to confidential data or finances may require in-depth credit checks.

Every candidate is different, so it doesn’t make sense to provide a one-size-fits-all approach to screening.

Don’t rely on social media

The temptation can be to check candidate profiles via existing online tools, such as social media including LinkedIn and Twitter, to find out if their claims match reality.

However, this could lead to legal issues. There is no way to verify the credibility of self-uploaded personal data and having access to a candidate’s personal details regarding sexuality, religion or race could leave businesses open to claims of discrimination.

Applicant checks should focus solely on the professional and be kept to fact-checking only.

Transparency and communication are key at every stage of the hiring process to put candidates at ease, and make sure they know where their data is needed.

With a number of upcoming regulations soon to impact the screening process, now is the time to ensure that candidate checks are legally appropriate.

Recruitment and regulation – ones to watch

1.     The Senior Managers Regime

First coming into effect in 2016, the Senior Managers and Certification Regime aims to reduce potential harm to consumers and strengthen market integrity by making individuals in the financial services sector more accountable for their conduct and competence. It ensures that firms and staff clearly understand where responsibility lies.

The current regulation applies to senior employees in banks, building societies, credit unions, Prudential Regulation Authority designated investment firms and foreign banks operating in the UK. But from next year it is expected to extend to all Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA)-authorised firms, including any firm offering credit to customers, such as dentists, gyms and tool hire companies.

2. Right To Be Forgotten

The Right To Be Forgotten law has been bubbling under the surface over the last few years, and the upcoming Data Protection Bill could impact on the availability of candidates’ information.

The law will allow people to request deletion of posts or pictures that may be damaging to their reputations. This new legislation is a positive step in the right direction, allowing people to have a greater understanding of the information being held on them.

Employment regulation could look entirely different in two years’ time, but this is not a reason for HR managers to wait and see what happens.

However, it also means hiring managers should think about whether their existing screening practices are enough – can you trust what is available on Google alone.

3. General Data Protection Regulation

GDPR should come as no shock to businesses, but with the deadline edging ever closer, it’s time for HR managers to make the necessary changes to ensure recruitment checks remain effective and within the law.

Candidate consent is the cornerstone of successful background screening, and it will become essential to ensure compliance under the new laws.

4. Brexit

Of course, the full impact of the UK’s upcoming departure from the EU is still to be seen, but its effect is already being felt.

Employment regulation could look entirely different in two years’ time, but this is not a reason for HR managers to wait and see what happens.

Avoiding recruiting risks means ensuring you’re up-to-date with every law that affects every potential employee, and being aware of what’s coming around the corner.

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Steve Girdler

Managing Director, EMEA

Read more from Steve Girdler

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