When Should a Company Run Background Checks on Candidates?

When an employer is looking to fill an opening, he or she typically posts an advertisement, screens resumes, contacts candidates, does a few rounds of interviews, and, upon offering a position, conducts a background check. In most cases, this procedure is efficient, particularly because screening all applicants is costly. County Commissioners in Laredo, Tex., however, want to change the role of background checks in hiring applicants. Rather than waiting to the end to give an individual an offer, they plan to screen all applicants with general criminal background checks and, once the pool becomes smaller, run FBI and credit checks.

On one hand, the County Commissioners in Laredo recently looked to fill an executive position, and their pick turned out to have a less-than-stellar background. Because of this incident, the County Commissioners want to screen all considered applicants from the start and remove those with unsatisfactory backgrounds.

For a measure of thinning out the applicant pool, running background checks in the beginning immediately removes anyone with relevant criminal charges or inaccurate work and educational history that could climb through multiple rounds of interviews. Candidates who might have ordinarily been passed over for an individual not fully honest about his or her background may have a greater chance of being asked to come in for an interview.

What the County Commissioners look for in a background check, however, has not been described as of yet. In a perfect hiring process, early background checks would remove those with job-related criminal charges and those not fully honest about work and educational histories on their applications. How background checks are used varies with each company, and screening for candidates early might turn into a blanket measure that keeps otherwise qualified but less-than-perfect individuals from obtaining a position.