Mitigating the Human Risk

Vetting, or screening, can ensure the people you hire don’t have criminal records and that they are who they say they are. Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Jennifer Barkhuizen, head of communications at Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), for some information around background screening and vetting of potential new hires.

Vetting, or screening, can ensure the people youhire don’t have criminal records and that they are who they say they are. Hi-TechSecurity Solutions asked Jennifer Barkhuizen, head of communications atManaged Integrity Evaluation (MIE), and Jenny Reid, director of iFacts, forsome information around background screening and vetting of potential newhires.

Our two interviewees work for independentcompanies that provide vetting services to clients. We asked them if it wasnecessary to use a third party. Surely a company’s HR department would be ableto follow the same processes to do background checks and the like?

“Onboarding a new employee into anorganisation can be a time-consuming process, especially if the correctprocedures are followed and the correct background screening checks areconducted,” says Barkhuizen. “Using an external service provider will giveadded assurances and peace of mind that all background checks are conducted ina legitimate and compliant manner.”

Reid agrees, noting, “Many companies believethat they can do their own background checks or screening on companies orindividuals. While this is perfectly true, is it cost effective? Companies maynot have direct access to the various bodies whose information needs to beverified, such as CIPC, SARS, Department of Labour, etc.”

When it comes to what specifically needs to beexamined, this will naturally differ depending on the industry and the jobdescription. Barkhuizen explains that a reputable service provider would beable to advise a company on what solutions and services would work best for theposition they wish to fill.


Start with the basics

“For any position, whether entry level ormanagement, the most important checks to conduct will be qualification andcriminal verifications,” she adds. “Psychometric assessments add a lot of valuein determining the likelihood of the individual to be successful in anobjective manner. Companies have the option to either use short screeningquestionnaires or very comprehensive psychometric assessments. These are availableacross all levels within an organisation.

“It is also important to vet a candidate’sprevious employment by doing reference checks, as this will provide additionalinsights as to how a candidate operated at previous employers.”

This does not apply on a one-off basis,however, and Barkhuizen says it is important for companies to create abackground screening policy to be adopted as part of their company HRpractices. “The policy should be applied for appointments at all levels,company-wide to avoid any negligent hiring choices.”

According to MIE’s statistics, the followingverifications are the most requested for onboarding new staff at all levels:Qualification verification, criminal record checks, credit checks, IDverification and employment reference checks.

Additionally, Reid says that If you areoutsourcing the control room service, it would generally be to a security firmof sorts and it is therefore essential that the vendor verification processincludes industry-specific checks, including PSIRA registration, provident funddetails, CIPC information, SARS clearance certificate and a letter of goodstanding from the Department of Labour regarding the Workman’s CompensationFund.

“If the company is suitable it would then berecommended that all the staff are screened for PSIRA registration, criminalrecord check, verification of ID and personal contact details (includingprevious employers), reference checks and an integrity assessment. Managementstaff should also be assessed for leadership skills and a social media riskassessment should be conducted.”

Reid also notes that to conduct screeningtests, the company must ensure that it has the necessary consent forms in placeand that procedures adhere to all legislation.

The social media risk

In a world that is seemingly dominated bysocial media, many individuals and companies have been caught makinginappropriate comments on social media. Some of the more publicised situationsand the implications are well known to all. It would therefore be a wise movefor companies to also check up on potential employees’ social media profiles toavoid any later unpleasantness.

Barkhuizen adds that social media profilespresent a wealth of information on users and the analysis of this can also beused to identify any potential red flags around a candidate’s suitability tothe business culture. It can also be leveraged to gain a deeper understandingof an employee’s career aspirations. Such data can be mapped back to job rolesor growth and development trajectories for improved employee satisfaction,which is known to have a significant impact on productivity.

“Many online platforms most frequently used byconsumers have surpassed being a mere tool and have become a lifeline toinformation about the world around them,” she adds. “While businesses have beenusing social media optimisation for several years to aid in marketingthemselves to the public and learning more about their consumers, it is nowalso being used more progressively as a tool in their recruitment efforts andto assess and vet potential employee candidates.”

The world of background screening and employeevetting has come a long way and today there are many different options forcompanies looking to hire new employees. The cost of doing a thorough job canoften cause concern for companies, but the cost of hiring the wrong personcould be even worse. And then, as noted, the cost of having to deal withfallout from someone else’s social media mistakes, mishaps and stupidity couldbe the most costly penalty to pay.

So, while a full assessment from a third partymay not be viable or even desirable in every instance, when looking atemployees who are to be tasked with important decisions in a security controlroom, ensuring there are no potential problems is essential. In this instance,psychometric assessments may also be useful given the scope of their function.

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