In our previous article, we spoke about Lifestyle Assessments, why they are considered necessary and whether or not they are effective. In this blog, we are looking at background Screenings, considering the need for them, and how they differ from Lifestyle Assessments.

What is a Background Screening?

 Very simply, background screening is a process undertaken by a company to verify that an individual is who they claim to be.

This in turn provides the company with an opportunity to investigate activities from the individual’s past, including, but not limited to, education, employment history and criminal record.

Not only are these screening expected to verify information, but they also aim to uncover character flaws and criminal tendencies that might jeopardise the employer, tarnish its reputation, endanger staff, or limit the effectiveness of the candidate. Screening is often done to determine if employees can be trusted to manage financial resources or protect sensitive or confidential information.

There is no standard or level of tests to be used in a background screening exercise. The level of tests can be extensive and are often designed in conversation with an employer to highlight specific areas of concern that the employer may have related to their circumstances or industry norms.

The list of what can looked at during a background verification assessment is extensive, and while most are common amongst employers, others may be more specifically related to the position that is being applied for. Below are some of the things that could be looked at during the process of a background assessment.

  • Criminal History:
    Many countries have specific laws that dictate how a criminal record enquiry can be used to evaluate a person’s employment application.
  • Social security or identity number:
    Usually, these details are verified as being correct then are used as the primary identifier for a candidate in credit or criminal record enquiries.
  • Drug and substance testing:
    Drug testing has become a common practice to ascertain the trustworthiness of prospective employees, to avoid workplace injuries, and ensure that new hires will be productive employees.
  • Polygraph testing:
    Truth verification testing is used in the process for obtaining a security clearance certificate and often in forensic investigations.
  • Medical Assessments:
    These tests are quite common with professional sports persons and are now more frequently used in high profile appointments such as appointments to CEOs positions of global companies. They are used for employment purposes if they provide evidence that an injury would make it impossible for a candidate to carry out their duties.
  • Credit Scores:
    Many employers consider the credit status of candidates to determine if financial problems might impact their trustworthiness or be evidence of irresponsible behaviour.
  • Sex offender’s registry:
    Employers seek to avoid hiring individuals who might endanger staff or damage their reputation. This is a common test for positions working with young or vulnerable persons, such as schools or children’s organisations.
  • Driver’s license:
    Most often this type of screening will be done when employees utilise a motor vehicle to carry out their job responsibilities in areas like sales, delivery, and trucking.
  • Skill assessments:
    Some employers will administer tests to determine if applicants have the right skills or personality orientation to carry out a particular job. Tests may include multiple-choice instruments as well as assessments to evaluate manual dexterity, programming, editing, writing, spreadsheet, word processing, or other technical skills.
  • Resume or CV verification:
    Employers will often check each of the jobs listed on your resume and applications to make sure the job title, dates of employment, and other details are accurate.
  • Employment referees:
    Employers will usually ask for written recommendations and/or they will interview your references to assess your readiness to carry out the job for which you are applying.
  • Educational Qualification Verification:
    Employers will often want to verify your degree, major, and academic performance prior to finalizing a hire, especially for entry-level jobs.

The difference between background screening and lifestyle assessments?

While on the face of it, there may be some similarities between background screenings and lifestyle assessments, the objectives are different. In our experience, however, it is the similarities between the two that leads to companies believing one is as effective as the other. But from our research, it appears that companies doing background screenings seldom do any further evaluation of the individual once employed.

Background screenings look at variables that are unlikely to change, such as identification numbers, while looking at employment history and prior criminal activities are all retrospective acts and by and large are static infomration.

So, while they are necessary to identify possible risks, they serve little purpose after the fact, should the employee’s situation change and leave them open to corruption.

A lifestyle audit, meanwhile, has a different focus to that of pre-employment screening. It is a tool used to identify the future risks of a person being involved in fraud or corruption. The lifestyle assessment objectives are to:

  • Assess the employee’s lifestyle in relation to his/her income
  • Assess the employee’s involvement in possible fraud
  • Assess the financial stability of the employee
  • Examine the reasonable acquisition of any suspicious wealth assets in the employee’s possession
  • Provide assurance that the employer has paid for or acquired their wealth assets through legitimate means

By nature, a lifestyle assessment focuses less upon historic risk behaviour, but more closely upon the employee’s behaviour since commencing employment.

But as with background screenings, lifestyle assessments are usually done in the wake of a corruption scandal, while the company views it as a once-off, with little-to-no follow-up after the fact. It is therefore not a good tool to detect and prevent corruption should it not be used on a continuous basis.

So while there are differences between the two assessments, there are similarities, none more so than their deficiencies. For companies to truly detect and prevent corruption, they need an assessment that is continual and digs deeper than the current systems that are used. The circumstances of a business are never fixed and the same can be said for that of individuals. To manage this fluidity, you need a system that is able to keep abreast of the changes at all times.

Protect yourself

Corporate Insights has developed a one-of-a-kind modular system that combines TransUnion’s big data universe with our own artificial intelligence and smart logic algorithms. It enables you to continually monitor, detect, act on, and prevent critical risks, both internally and externally.

The Corporate Insights system will allow you to protect your business from succumbing to the typical pitfalls that lead to corruption. It also comes with a host of additional benefits to ensure your company continues to operate optimally, free of the threat of corruption.

Click here to book a demonstration or call us today to find out how you can transform your business.