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5 Ways to Screen Potential Job Candidates

March 9, 2018

Criminal background checkThe challenge for employers when screening potential job candidates is to stay compliant with privacy laws while also doing due diligence to protect their business from bad hires. A growing number of jurisdictions in Maryland are enacting “Ban the Box” restrictions, which block businesses from asking job candidates to disclose criminal histories on employment applications, and allow a background check to be performed only after a conditional employment offer is made.

The security consultants at Maryland Security Professionals understand that employers have a legitimate need to screen job candidates for criminal convictions, drug use, and other issues that might disqualify those candidates from an open employment position. The following 5 tips will help ensure that you find the right person for the job.

Focus on the Truth, Not on the Problem

Emphasize to potential job candidates that honest answers on a job application are more critical than problematic background issues. Advise a job candidate that you will conduct a more thorough investigation if you offer employment to that candidate, and that your investigation will likely uncover any dishonesty on the candidate’s application.

Establish Written Hiring Policies

For many employers, criminal backgrounds and past drug use do not mean automatic disqualification from employment. Examine the needs of your business and understand whether and to what extent these background issues are important. Convictions for certain types of crimes, such as domestic violence, might present a higher bar against hiring. Deciding what your business will and will not tolerate before you screen potential employees will simplify your hiring decisions.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Give potential job candidates an opportunity to volunteer information about their backgrounds with questions, such as, “Can you think of anything that would be relevant to our decision on whether to hire you?” Ask your human resources and legal teams to review and approve job descriptions and give a copy of the approved descriptions to applicants early in the hiring process to eliminate any miscommunication about what might disqualify a candidate for a job.

Understand the Benefits and Limitations of Using Social Media as a Job Applicant Screening Tool

Social media websites can give valuable insights into a job candidate’s activities and propensities, but employers must weight these benefits against the potential for claims of discrimination and unfair hiring practices. If you rely on social media as a job applicant screening tool, consult with your human resources and legal teams to develop the policies and procedures that will keep your business compliant with state and federal regulations. 

Trust Your Instincts

Subtle, non-verbal clues can tell you a lot about a job candidate. Refrain from challenging or intimidating a job candidate into disclosing sensitive information, but stay alert for changes in tone or language in how he or she answers questions.

Call Maryland Security Professionals for Job Applicant Screening Services

When you need employee screening and background checks in Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, or Washington, D.C., call the experts at Maryland Security Professionals. Our services include:

  • Verify name and social security number
  • Check address history
  • Verify education, employment, and professional licenses
  • Review national criminal and sex offender databases
  • Review domestic terrorist watch list
  • Screen for illegal drugs
  • More!

Please call us for answers to your questions about job applicant background checks and to consult with our specialists about our full range of employee screening services.

Additional “Employee Screening Tips” Resources:

  1. SHRM.org, Ban the Box Laws by State and Municipality. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/xperthr/pages/ban-the-box-laws-by-state-and-municipality-.aspx
  2. Clearancejobs.com, Drug Involvement and Security Clearances. https://news.clearancejobs.com/2010/04/27/drug-involvement-and-security-clearances/
  3. TheBalance.com: Use Social Media for Recruiting, Screening, and Background Checks? https://www.thebalance.com/social-media-recruiting-1919153
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