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Stop! Before you hire that new recruit... Did you do a background check?

by , 02 May 2014
You wouldn't buy a car without test-driving it first, so why hire an employee you haven't checked out? He may seem perfect in the interview and say the right things, but how will you know he's right for your company after you've only spent a short amount of time with him?

Don't worry. There are five easy steps you can follow to do a background check to make sure he isn't pulling the wool over your eyes just to get the job...

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Five steps to do a background check

Step #1: Contact the applicants references
When an applicant gives you the name and contact numbers of a potential referee, he's giving you permission to contact the person and check up on information he gives you.
Tell the recruit you're going to contact his references. This way he won't get a nasty surprise if you find out something from his previous employer that could affect his chances of getting the job.
Step #2: Conduct a credit check
You can apply to a credit bureau for the relevant credit history. But you'll have to pay for this service.
What to do if your job applicant has a poor credit history?
This depends on the type  of work he'll be doing. You don't want to hire a financial manager that can't manage money. A poor credit history often means a high risk of fraud in this type of role. But you can't just reject an applicant because of his credit history. Where the job doesn't need him to work with cash or finances you can decide if you're comfortable employing him.
Step #3: Conduct a criminal record check
There are two ways to do a criminal record check:
1. You can contact the Criminal Record Centre (Tel: (012) 393 3601) and request the information; or 
2. You can ask the applicant to apply for a police clearance certificate from his local police station. 
But what if he has a criminal record? Keep reading to find out…

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What to do if your job applicant has a criminal conviction
Start by looking at the facts of each situation. Don't think of it as an automatic barrier to hiring the employee. Look at factors like: 
• The type of the conviction. Ask yourself if it's relevant to the job he is applying for?
• The number of convictions. Is he a repeat offender?
• When the offences took place. Were they long ago or fairly recent?
You can choose not to hire him because of the conviction without fear of accusations of unfair discrimination, but only if you've looked at all the facts and how it will affect your company. 
Step #4: Check qualifications
Contact the record office of the relevant learning institution, university, college etc. Have his student number and the year he graduated ready to get this information.
Step #5: Verify drivers licence
Verify the validity of his driver's licence if driving's a requirement of the job. 
In all cases, it's best to tell the applicant in clear terms what information you need and how you're going to go about getting it. Better yet, get his consent in writing before you do. 
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