This issue is brought to you by:
Websites for Recruiters"

De-mystifying Applicant Screening

Background Bureau


hat you spend on a background check should be governed by the risk in the position. You can figure one half day’s earnings of the position as a guideline for what you might expect to spend.

All positions carry the risk of negligent hiring liability if no background check is performed. Courts have found against employers who hired people in positions where they damaged others, without having first performed a background check to make certain that the person they hired wouldn’t be a risk to others.

Higher risk positions require more checking. Such positions might include these direct risk positions:

  1. Access to cash, checks, street marketable inventory, customer lists or other proprietary information.
  2. Access to product or raw materials having readily marketable street value.
  3. Access to customers homes, offices or personal property.
  4. Working with children, disabled, elderly, infirmed or otherwise vulnerable.

A basic background check should include verification of identity, identification of prior areas of residence
and criminal history( They might have moved from where they used to live because of a problem there.)

All positions carry indirect risks, such as:

  1. Wasted hiring/training costs and turnover likelihood.
  2. Personal problems interfering with ability to learn and perform.
  3. Those with violence potential, accident potential or less than straightforward intentions.
  4. Unexpected health or Workers’ compensation premium cost increases.

These could include substance abuse issues, overwhelming economic burdens, misrepresented
experience or qualifications, undisclosed family or personal health concerns and excessive personal stress.


You may consider there are three basic avenues available to check out candidates:

1.      Background check.

2.      Drug test.

3.      Psychological profile.


This is based upon the concept that often, a person’s past is an indicator of their future. The background check can research county courthouse criminal or civil records, State or multi-State (called “National” ) database records, Federal courthouse records, Sexual offender database, Banned Nationals list and can verify identity/ social number, past areas or residence and employment, credit and driving history, Workers’ Comp. claim history, employment, educational background, degrees or licenses and investigate prior employment circumstances. This tells you whether you are considering someone who might be a security risk, or who may otherwise be unsuitable for your company.


This identifies those who use substances, and stand to increase your costs as a result of this dependency. This includes statistically validated increased absenteeism, health care costs, production errors, accidents on the job and theft risks, often to to support their habit.


Usually an on-line or paper/pencil questionnaire, designed to match personal traits, skills, interests and abilities with position requirements. After all, someone who has no interest or talent for numbers and details will likely not make a good bookkeeper or inventory control person.

Violence tendencies can be measured as well as stress levels including health, family and personal levels. It can also define the risk of extended Worker’s compensation claims, accidents, injuries, theft likelihood and turnover.

Depending upon how careful you wish to be, one or all three methods can be utilized.

Is the service you use significant?

A service that has not been in business long enough lacks experience and is also not likely to be receiving important newsletters, update briefs and other information from the various sources available. They haven’t gotten on the right mailing lists and what they don’t know or learn can hurt you. Newer start-ups often link to the largest and least expensive researchers for hand research, such as courthouse records, and receive limited , inaccurate or incomplete results. They’re often unaware of various courthouse idiosyncracies and the need to random sample researcher reports. Experience dictates a certain percentage of research requests ordered from any researcher has to be tested for accuracy by assigning the same research to a different researcher. Your service has to be up to date on legalities and current practices, including FCRA requirements and individual State requirements. With so many offenses plea-bargained due to an overcrowded court system, it’s important that your application and release ask for “ALL” convictions, not just “felonies.” Dates of birth have become increasingly important as identifiers. If your firm is sensitive to obtaining this information, your service should be capable of structuring an alternative method of receiving that information. In short, saving money is making money but penny wise is not always wise. Look for experience. Your service is like a lawyer or CPA. The more knowledge and experience, the safer for you.


Many of the larger employers across the Country that we service also use a secondary service to some extent. This provides them the maximum attention receivable from each service and is a back-up, should one of the services be unable to deliver for any reason. Exclusivity tends to offer some cost reduction, in some cases, but may not be a bargain. Regardless of quality, accuracy and efficiency, you are locked into that scenario whether you like it or not.

A service should allow you to sample (at a cost) their services prior to getting formally involved.

Too small means your service may not be capable of checking certain areas , or may subject you to their growing pains if they seek to become larger.

Too big means you fit into their standard procedures or can’t have exactly what you need. Obtaining special services is not likely, either. For example, Client’s have had us verify information in far away places, such as the Phillipines, check out vendors and franchise applicants, conduct exit interviews in Spanish, research competitive wages/ benefits and accommodatie applicants in cities other than the client location. Recently, we connected a client to a licensed investigator for an employee issue. Since you don’t pay extra to have a vendor who can accommodate special needs, why not have that resource available?

Sam Paris,
C.E.O. Background Bureau, Inc.

Please address any questions or comments to Mr. Paris.

Corporate offices: 2019 Alexandria Pike Highland Heights, KY 41076
( 859) 781-3400 Fax: (859) 781-9540 or visit


Copyright ©2003 HCM Media, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.