The Successful Candidate

Screening applicants is key to successful corporate makeup

Identity Magazine

Tuesday, 01 June 2010


White collar crime – including fraud, corporate espionage, theft of intellectual property and other forms of cybercrime – is on the increase. Pre-employment screening can help secure the services of the right person for the right position.

The credentials and character of the person applying for a position may look good on paper and may even sound accurate in an interview. The reality of the modern workplace, however, is that people have access to resources and infrastructure, and information remains the most prized asset for any organisation. As such, decision-makers cannot be too careful.

Ina van der Merwe, Chief Executive Officer at MIE (Managed Integrity Evaluation), believes the most efficient and cost effective way to verify and confirm details presented by candidates, is through comprehensive background screening

“There are a number of aspects to consider in the process of employee screening. While the main objective of decision-makers in business is to take every precaution to recruit honest employees with integrity, the rights of individuals must also be taken into account. To this end, it is advisable for organisations to be fully aware of legislation that governs human resource practice, particularly from an equal opportunity and anti-discrimination point of view,” she says.
Know your rights.

Van der Merwe says those initiating an employee screening programme should be mindful of what information they are permitted to source on prospective employees. Elements such as criminal records, employment history and other details have to be kept in perspective she says.

Experts within MIE advise the market that when doing any form of background checks on prospective employees, the employer should always remember the following:

  • The person who is to be screened has to give written consent – this is usually in the form of a signed consent form that lists which checks will be conducted. The candidate fills in the information that will be verified.
  • Certain checks can only be conducted in certain instances – i.e. a credit record check can only be conducted if the person is being employed in a position where they will be working with finances, or if they are being employed in a position where they may have the opportunity to commit fraud.
  • The fairest way in which to conduct background screening is to do a comprehensive check, which includes qualifications, criminal records, fraud listings etc. Doing only one or two checks may give an inaccurate picture of the person’s background.
An effective employee profiling programme applied via technology infrastructure involves a great deal more than making a few calls to review and confirm facts, says Van der Merwe. The framework of checks and balances that needs to be put into place, including previous employment and references, credit and vehicle checks, criminal records, personality tests, physical screening or drug tests, is extensive she points out.

Select the Best

Van der Merwe believes that failure to check and analyse an individual’s background prior to officially employing them is a major risk. It is the responsibility of the employer to not hire staff who could potentially harm the company. While there are systems to check on details, there are just as many to create practical channels for employees to access and manipulate data. The cost of not performing a background check on someone definitely outweighs the cost of doing the checks.

“We advise decision-makers to consult relevant legislation to ensure that they process employee screening appropriately and legally,” she continues. “Don’t try to do the checks yourself, rather use a background screening company that has the expertise and experience to do this properly.”

According to MIE, background screening has become an activity that is synonymous with the recruitment process. Almost all employers perform some level of background screening before they hire someone.

The process of doing these checks need not be tedious and expensive. Making use of a reputable background screening company means that all the information is sourced on behalf of the employer. The background screening company has trusted relationships with the sources of the information, and is able to receive the information and process the checks speedily and within the time frame promised to the client.

Van der Merwe predicts that technology will continue to have a profound influence and impact on human resource processes. At the same time, employee screening will rise in significance in order to safeguard the interests of business and users.
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