Quicker Isn’t Always Better for Background Checks

The less time a background check takes, a screening can tend to be less thorough and contain more errors. Over the summer, Florida changed its background check policy for caregivers, as those with past criminal convictions in rape and child abuse were ending up in positions taking care of the elderly, disabled, or children. Canada, according to an article in The Toronto Sun, is looking to speed up its background checks for vulnerability sector positions through a fingerprinting machine. Finding out if a candidate has a criminal history is helpful but should not be the only factor considered in a background check.

According to the Toronto Sun piece, the RCMP – Royal Canadian Mounted Police – have found that, since standards for background checks became more stringent a year ago, the number of screenings for teachers, coaches, and daycare workers has increased from 130 to 8,000 per month. The fingerprinting machine would apparently bring results back for a candidate’s criminal history in weeks, days, or minutes – far quicker than the month’s time an investigation currently takes.

If this screening is one aspect of criminal background checks, it would be efficient in finding a candidate’s full criminal history, but if the scanner is the only measure used, more investigation should be needed into education and work history. Even if a candidate has a clean criminal background, being dishonest in past educational degrees and work history should take a candidate out of the applicant pool.

Quick background checks have also spread outside of employment and into dating. As online dating has increased over the past five years, Glamour ran a piece at the end of 2010 about dating background checks. A good idea in concept, running background checks on a potential online date can be necessary, as dating websites don’t screen users. The services described in Glamour appear to be more thorough than iPhone dating apps and generally charge $10 for a background check. But if you know little about your date, how can you make sure that such a screening – which, presumably, doesn’t take long – is fully accurate? As the Glamour piece points out, such sites require you to have the birth date and last address of the individual you want to screen.