What Is Pre-Employment Screening?
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Hiring a new employee is a big investment for any company.  They are hired with the hope that they’ll be with the organization for a long time and continuously deliver great work that positively impacts the business.

An organization that makes good hiring decisions tends to have higher productivity levels and lower turnover, which will have a  positive effect on the bottom line. Hiring the wrong people can have a negative impact on employee morale and management time and can lead to  waste of valuable training and development dollars. Unfortunately, bad hires happen. The best-case scenario is you quickly realize your mistake and the person moves on before they are able to join and the offer letter is rescinded with the help of Pre-employment tests.

Pre-employment tests need to be selected and monitored with care; employers run the risk of litigation if a selection decision is challenged and determined to be discriminatory or in violation of state or federal regulations. Tests used in the selection process must be legal, reliable, valid and equitable, and HR professionals need to stay aware of any developing trends.

You can lower the chances of making a bad hire by conducting background checks before you make employment offers to candidates. It will reveal any details the person may have hidden or have been dishonest about during the interview process so your company only invests in honorable people.

Why Pre-Employment Screening?

Hiring the right candidates involves a lot more than just judging the applicants on their skill set. You need to ensure that the candidates fit into your company culture and help promote your employer brand. Conducting pre-employment screening can help you achieve this.

Pre-employment screening in simpler terms is performing background checks to validate the details and personal or professional information provided by the candidate. Besides helping you choose reliable candidates; pre-employment screening can also streamline your hiring process.

With Remote working becoming the new normal. Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Teams have bridged the gap of communication but physical contact remains distant.

While these tools prove beneficial for the hiring process, eliminating unsuitable applicants still remains a question unanswered. Thanks to pre-employment screening services and tools, evaluating suitable candidates with the right skills is an easier task.

Depending on the job, employers can conduct one or more pre-employment screens from the Types of Screening that could be done. Here are 11 types of screening methods that companies use to get the right candidate.

Beneficial Methods in Pre-employment Screening

#1 Investigating Criminal Record

Criminal record checks will often include a combination of records derived from multiple sources. They can be done at county, state, federal, or even international levels. Companies can commonly access this data from online databases.

The general consensus is that the most effective method of getting an accurate picture of a job candidate is to have real people looking through hard copies of records, in order to ensure that they are getting information about the correct person and the true outcome of all criminal cases.

#2 History of Substance Abuse Testing

Drug testing is probably one of the most common screenings that employers use to ensure that job candidates will be productive employees and as a preventative measure against injuries in the workplace.

Drug tests identify illegal substances potential employees may have ingested or been exposed to. It must be done in strict compliance with laws of the state where the business is located.

#3 Previous Compensation/Salary Scan

Screening for worker’s compensation claims that a job applicant has filed in the past is not available in all states. Furthermore, in those states where it is available, it must be conducted in strict compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

#4 Credit History Report

Many employers consider such a screening to be helpful as an indicator of irresponsible behavior if the search turns up financial problems. On the other hand, it is also considered evidence of trustworthiness and reliability if the applicant has a positive report.

#5 Sexual Offense Review

Employers may conduct searches through registries at both the state and Federal level to find out if job applicants are on sex offender lists. This type of pre-employment screening allows them to avoid endangering their staff and tarnishing their reputation by removing sex offenders from their pool of prospective employees.

#6 Employment History Check

Employers verify previous employment listed on resumes and job applications by this type of pre-employment screening. Also, these screening actions can be used to check the accuracy of dates of employment, job title, and other related details. Another important screening element is to verify that a job applicant is eligible to work in this country.

#7 Referral/ Former Employee Records

Employers will sometimes want to interview or speak to references or former employers, in order to evaluate the ability of a candidate to perform the job role. In these cases, the employers will usually be required to provide permission from the applicant to speak with them.

#8 Educational Background

Particularly for entry-level employees, employers like to verify a job applicant’s degree, academic performance or major. These reports verify the dates students attended the academic institution, which fields were studied, the degree earned, grade point averages, and the date of graduation.

#9 Legal Records Check

A location-based search of civil records is commonly used by employers as a guide to a job candidate’s character. This pre-employment screening reveals lawsuits which are based on the applicant’s failure to fulfill the terms of a contract. It will also reveal all civil lawsuits which have been filed against the potential employee. This method is a useful tool for determining whether a potential employee is reliable or not.

#10 Verified Professional certification

Companies will always want to verify that their employees have any licenses that are required for their work. This would include attorneys, medical personnel, engineers, accountants, real estate agents, and more.

This pre-employment screening reveals whether a license is valid, the expiration date, and whether the applicant has been the subject of any type of disciplinary action.

#11 Medical History 

Applicants may be asked whether they can perform all of the responsibilities of a job. If the answer is yes, an employer has no choice but to accept it as the truth.

One exception is when companies make medical exams a requirement of that job, and all similar ones, so that everyone in those positions are required to undergo an exam.

Advantages of Pre-Employment Screening

Recruiting new employees takes time, and bad hires can lead to ramifications within the company, such as wasted expenses and decreases in productivity. This is why pre-employment screening is essential to pinpoint qualified candidates in a pool of applicants. Pre-employment screening also sets the pace for the working environment of an employee by introducing them to the company culture for the very first time.

Listed below are 5 key benefits that pre-employment screening offers an organization:

  1. Verify the candidate is qualified – Some people unfortunately embellish their work history or education when job searching. You could end up hiring someone who is unqualified if you fail to check their background.
  2. Perform a character check – Even if someone only slightly exaggerates their background, it’s a sign of dishonesty. Ensure your company only hires high-character people by verifying an applicant’s resume is 100 % accurate.
  3. Keep your workplace safe – The importance of protecting your employees, customers and company as a whole goes without saying. Background checks save you from hiring any dangerous or unsavory individuals.
  4. Reduce your company’s liability – Your company can lower insurance costs and avoid unnecessary lawsuits by only hiring people who clear a pre-employment screening.
  5. Avoid bad hires – Hiring the wrong person is costly and frustrating. Making the small effort to conduct a background check before you hire someone will prevent major problems from occurring later.

Examples of Pre-Employment Screening Tools 

Employment tests usually are standardized devices designed to measure skills, intellect, personality or other characteristics, and they yield a score, rating, description or category. However, according to the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures of 1978 issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), any employment requirement set by an employer is considered to be a “test.”

Let’s look at  6 Types of Testing Methods to get the right fit.

6 Types of Applicant Screening Tests & Methods

  1. Cognitive ability tests measure intelligence. The most common types, IQ tests, measure general mental ability. Other tests gauge verbal ability, math skills, spatial perception, or inductive and deductive reasoning.
  2. Physical ability tests measure strength, endurance and muscular movement.
  3. Aptitude tests measure an applicant’s ability to learn a new skill.
  4. Personality tests measure characteristics such as attitudes, emotional adjustment, interests, interpersonal relations and motivation. Employers frequently use these tools, but critics say they are an invasion of privacy and unrelated to job performance. 
  5. Situational judgment tests present candidates with different scenarios that they might experience in the job they’re applying for. They’re designed to assess how well candidates prioritize, follow the instructions, and handle stressful situations in the workplace.
  6. Medical examinations determine whether a candidate can perform the essential duties of a specific position (e.g., bending, lifting, walking and sitting). The ADA prohibits pre-offer medical examinations.

Best Practices of Pre-employment screening

Pre-employment background checks are a critical component of the hiring process. Job applicants must be screened extensively to determine if they are the best fit for the job, and conducting background checks is the best way to do that.

What every employer must remember when it comes to doing a background check on a potential hire is the fact that it must be conducted judiciously. Otherwise, the company risks liability for hiring discrimination, privacy violation, and more.

Here are 7 best practices all employers must follow to avoid any unwanted problems or legal issues:

#1 Research your vendor options

One of the most important steps you can take to kick-off pre-employment testing at your organization is to do your research on the different vendors that are available to you. There are a number of different vendors out there that offer different types of pre-employment testing in various formats.

#2 Ensure the validity of your test data

There are many different validity measures used to validate the data in pre-employment tests. For example, an assessment demonstrates content when the criteria it’s measuring align with the job description and performance.

Pre-employment tests can also demonstrate something called construct validity, which is evaluated by comparing the results to a similar test assessing the same psychological construct, like integrity or intelligence. 

#3 Implement testing responsibly

Test selection is key when you’re implementing pre-employment testing. It’s important that you choose the most appropriate for measuring relevant skills and characteristics for the job in question to be sure they’re predictive for on-the-job success.

#4 Align your pre-employment testing with your brand

It’s always a good idea to align your pre-employment tests with your brand by customizing them as much as possible. By using pre-employment testing software that has customization features, you can showcase your brand in more ways than one.

#5 Test during the right part of the recruitment process

Once you have a test prepared, you’ll have to decide at which stage of the hiring funnel you’ll test applicants. Testing candidates early on in the process is an efficient way to gather objective data before making any important hiring decisions. 

#6 Track Testing completion rates

It’s also a good idea to track your testing completion rates to assess when and where candidates drop off. This will allow you to think about what steps you can take to improve on the process, like changing the order of your pre-hire assessments or making them shorter. Tracking completion rates, optimizes all processes and improves it to make the pre-employment testing more useful over time. 

#7 Use Test results as a guide 

Pre-hire assessments are not meant to be an ultimate decision-making tool; they’re only meant to help guide you when making your decision. Don’t rely solely on candidate test results to make the choice for you. Combine pre-employment testing with other candidate selection methods such as job interviews, test assignments, to make a fully informed, objective decision.

Summing Up

When implemented, administered, and evaluated well, pre-employment testing can be an immense help in your hiring process. You can get started by exploring different kinds of tests and finding out which ones are relevant to the jobs you’re hiring for. Sticking to best practices of pre-employment testing will ensure that you get the best results—and ultimately the very best candidates for your business.

Pre-employment testing empowers and enables recruiters to conduct a thorough investigation of the candidate and verify the candidates claims. 

FAQs on Pre-Employment Screening

What is Pre-Employment Screening?

Pre-employment tests are a series of different assessment tools that recruiters use to screen potential candidates and find the best match for their organization. By implementing pre-employment assessments, you can gather relevant, reliable job-related information on candidates in a way that is as objective as possible.

Why is Pre-Employment Screening Important?

Right from application review to making final hiring decisions, pre-employment testing gives a sense of confidence that you have selected the most suitable candidate for the position. This eliminates the risk of bad hires, unnecessary expenses and wasted time.

What is the purpose of screening the job applicants?

Screening is a process used to determine a job applicant’s qualifications and potential job fit for a position to which they have applied. The screening process may include a variety of elements such as: job screening questions within the employment application.

How long does pre-employment screening take?

The pre-employment screening process varies in length, depending on how thorough the organization’s process is. Background checks can take between two days and several weeks to complete, though faster background checks don’t always provide complete and accurate information. You’re better off waiting longer for more accurate background checks.

How do you test a job applicant?

1. Achievement tests
2. Aptitude tests
3. Physical ability/agility tests
4. Personality tests
5. Skill tests
6. Drug tests
7. Medical exams

What are the Benefits of Pre-Employment Background Checks?

1. Improves The Quality of Job Applications
2. Establishes A Safe and Productive Workplace
3. Eliminates Negligent Hiring Risks
4. Minimizes Employee Turnover
5. Reduces Substance Abuse

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