Pre-Employment Screenings for HR Managers [Part 1 of 2]

Posted on 07.13.2020

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Many HR managers know the importance of pre-employment screenings (studies show that up to 98% of businesses use them in some form), yet it can still be difficult to know exactly what to include.

The term “pre-employment screening” can vary widely and mean anything from a criminal reference check, to an employment history verification, to calling references.

In this blog, we’re identifying the types of pre-employment screenings that HR managers might consider, and the best times and ways to use them in recruiting.

Types of Pre-Employment Screenings

A pre-employment screening not only lowers risk, but it can also improve candidate selection. It can help you find the true superstars and ensure that your choice of candidate is being honest and has the credentials needed for the job.

However, the exact checks you choose may vary depending on the role you are hiring. Here are the most common:

  • Criminal background checks
  • Employment history verifications
  • Education history verification
  • Reference checks
  • Credit check verification
  • Driver’s abstract

A comprehensive criminal background check can determine if a candidate has a past criminal conviction.

Data shows that 10% of people have a criminal conviction of some sort and many more have had serious negative incidents with law enforcement.

When to use it: This is particularly important for roles that have interaction with the public, particularly vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, or people with special needs, or when a candidate would be handling cash, dealing with sensitive information, and more.

An employment verification ensures that candidates are being honest on their applications. Studies show that about 25% of people lie on their resumés.

With an employment verification, HR managers can confirm dates of former employment, positions held, and reasons for departure.

These can also give you employment profiles on items such as the candidate’s duties, salary, performance and more.

When to use it: For just about any position, but especially those where you are hiring based on past experience.

Similar to an employment history verification, an education history check ensures that candidates are being truthful about their credentials.

This type of check verifies high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-secondary degrees, and even professional licensing.

It’s critical to confirm your candidate is being honest here — especially if there are legal implications to not having a license they say they do.

When to use it: Again, this is helpful for just about any position, but especially those where you are hiring based on their educational background or where a professional license is required.

Employment reference checks are key for making sure your candidate is actually a good fit for both the role and your company.

As we enter the workplace of the future, soft skills — such as emotional intelligence and the potential for reskilling or upskilling – are becoming increasingly important. But these skills don’t always show up on a candidate’s resumé or in their education.

A reference checks can find these skills and verify other important details too – such as a candidate’s attendance record, punctuality, past incidents of harassment, and more. Don’t skip this essential part of the process!

When to use it: Like employment and educational history checks, this is valuable for just about any role where the candidate has a work history — particularly if you are in an industry, like manufacturing, where recruiting is more competitive.

A credit report can reveal a candidate’s credit history, score, and financial red flags — such as a recent bankruptcy or default on debt.

While these aren’t always deal breakers, it’s important to know if your candidate is under financial stress as that can be a precursor to fraud and is particularly crucial if they are handling cash or working in the financial department.

When to use it: For candidates that are handling cash, sensitive financial data, or valuable products.

A driver’s abstract ensures that you are hiring responsible drivers by revealing any red flags in their driving history. This might include impaired driving, speeding, reckless driving, active suspensions, the status of the license, and more.

When to use it: This is important for candidates who will be driving on the job or those using company vehicles.

What to Look for In Pre-Employment Screenings

If a pre-employment screening turns something up, it isn’t always a deal breaker, but you do want to ensure that your candidate:

  • Truly has the necessary credentials
  • Is a good fit for the role
  • Doesn’t have red flags in his/her background that could affect performance on the job (for example, if you find out that a candidate has recently declared bankruptcy and is now going to be your accountant or CFO, that may not be ideal. On the other hand, a candidate who declared bankruptcy seven years ago and has worked steadily to improve their situation and can explain why it happened could be a good choice.)
  • Is being truthful on their application and not exaggerating or outright lying.

How to Integrate Pre-Employment Screenings Into the Hiring Process

Sometimes hiring managers intend to use pre-employment screenings, but then decide to forego them when they find the “perfect” candidate.

It’s a far better practice to make job screenings standard

Using pre-employment screenings can also lead to a culture of trust and accountability within the organization. If everyone has to do this, then other employees will know that newcomers have been thoroughly vetted and are a strong addition to the team.

Imagine the opposite – having people join the team with issues that could have been spotted beforehand (like a history of aggression, excessive absenteeism, and so on) and the drag it can have on employee morale. Even if the problem is taken care of swiftly (which isn’t always the case), it can still cause damage.

A good rule of thumb is to use pre-employment screenings when a candidate has been selected, but before they start the job. This cuts down on your time and resources spent without unnecessarily getting applicants’ hopes up.

Some, like reference checks, can be used to narrow the field between two choices.

If you’re in doubt, consult with your company’s legal team or a trusted provider.

Does your organization use pre-employment screenings? If so, which ones and when? Share with us on social media. Triton Canada is on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Triton Canada offers pre-employment screenings for HR managers that provide quick, secure, and accurate results. Get in touch today to learn more about our solutions. Call 1-844-874-8667 or visit