Sunday, February 28, 2010


Background investigation may take place either before or after the in-depth interview. It costs the organization some time and money, but it is generally well worth the effort. Unfortunately, applicants frequently misrepresent their qualifications and backgrounds. According to one survey of employers, the most common false information given is length of prior employment, past salary, criminal record, and former job title.
Many universities report that inquiries on graduates and former students often reveal that the individuals never graduated. Some did not even attend the university.
Another type of credential fraud uses the mail-order “degree mill.” To enhance their chances of employment, individuals purchase unaccredited degrees from organizations that grant them for a fee—as one advertisement puts it, “with no exams, no studying, no classes.”
It is estimated that many resumes contain at least one lie or “factual misstatement”. The only way for employers to protect themselves from resume fraud and false credentials is to request verification on proof from applicants either before or after hire. If hired, the employee can be terminated for falsifying employment information. It is unwise for employers to assume that
“someone else has already checked.” Too often, no one took the trouble.

Background references can be obtained from several sources. Some of the following references may be more useful and relevant than others, depending on the jobs for which applicants are being considered:
-Academic references
-Prior work references
-Financial references
-Law enforcement records
-Personal references
Personal references, such as references from relatives, clergy, or family friends, often are of little value; they probably should not even be required. No applicant will ask somebody to write a recommendation who is going to give a negative response.
Instead, greater reliance should be placed on work-related references from previous employers and supervisor.

Several methods of obtaining reference information are available to an employer.
Telephoning a reference is the most-used method, but many firms prefer written responses.

Many experts recommend using a structured telephone reference-check form. Typically, such forms focus on factual verification of information given by the applicant, such as employment dates, salary history, type of job responsibilities, and attendance record. Other questions often include reasons for leaving the previous job, the individual’s manner of working with supervisors and other employees, and other less factual information. Naturally, many firms will provide only factual information. But the use of the form can provide evidence that a diligent effort was made.

Some organizations send preprinted reference forms to individuals who are giving references for applicants.
These forms often contain a release statement signed by the applicant, so that those giving references can see that they have been released from liability on the information they furnish. Specific or general letters of reference also are requested by some employers or provided by applicants.
Medical Examinations
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits a company from rejecting an individual because of a disability and from asking job applicants any question relative to current or past medical history until a conditional job offer is made. The ADA also prohibits the use of preemployment medical exams, except for drug tests, until a job has been conditionally offered.

Drug testing may be a part of a medical exam, or it may be done separately. Using drug testing as a part of the selection process has increased in the past few years, though not without controversy. Employers should remember that such tests are not infallible. The accuracy of drug tests varies according to the
type of test used, the item tested, and the quality of the laboratory where the test samples are sent. If an individual tests positive for drug use, then a second, more detailed analysis should be administered by an independent medical laboratory.
Because of the potential impact of prescription drugs on test results, applicants
should complete a detailed questionnaire on this matter before the testing. Whether urine, blood, or hair samples are used, the process of obtaining, labeling, and transferring the samples to the testing lab should be outlined clearly and definite policies and procedures established.
Drug testing also has legal implications. In a number of cases, courts have ruled that individuals with previous substance-abuse problems who have received rehabilitation are disabled and thus covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, preemployment drug testing must be administered in a nondiscriminatory manner, not used selectively with certain groups. The results of drug tests also must be used consistently, so that all individuals testing positive are treated uniformly. An applicant for a production-worker position who tests positive should be rejected for employment, just as an applicant to be vice-president of marketing would be.
Challenges to drug testing are less likely to succeed in the private sector than in the government sector. The Fourth Amendment (relating to search and seizure) fails as an argument by employees because the government is not involved.

Another controversial area of medical testing is genetic testing.
Some large companies currently are using genetic tests and many more are considering their use in the future. However, the general public disapproves strongly of their use.
Employers that use genetic screening tests do so for several reasons. First, the tests may link workplace health hazards and individuals with certain genetic characteristics. Second, genetic testing may be used to make workers aware of genetic problems that could occur in certain work situations. The third use is the most controversial: to exclude individuals from certain jobs if they have genetic conditions that increase their health risks. Because people cannot change their genetic makeup, the potential for discrimination based, for example, on race or sex is very real. For instance, sickle-cell anemia is a condition found primarily in African Americans. If chemicals in a particular work environment can cause health problems for individuals with sickle-cell anemia, African Americans might be screened out on that basis. The question is whether that decision should be made by the individual or the employer.

1 comment:

  1. Running a background investigation on new hires will protect your company from harm.