What Background Checks Are Missing (That Social Screening Has Found)

Standard background screening methods can help uncover and verify some valuable information. They help ensure that a candidate actually went to certain schools, worked for certain companies (with the correct titles and at the correct times), and didn’t commit criminal offenses. Depending on state laws and job requirements, they may also help spot drug usage and excess spending. But where does online screening fit into pre-hire screening methods, and why should HR and talent leaders take note?

If you're a large company with a high volume of applicants, the reality is that traditional background checks simply don’t catch everything they should. Even when all of your traditional background checks have done their jobs correctly, few of them will accurately predict a proclivity for toxic workplace behavior that can seriously damage an employer brand. In this post, we'll share two examples of solid background check processes that still managed to miss some critical social media data.

Social media screening reveals hidden issues

Recently, we began working with a large sports retailer in the US (14,000 employees making $935M annual revenue) who had been conducting background screening and video-based assessments for all of their candidates. They felt that they had a very secure process and that their exposure to risk was minimal. However, once social media screening came into the picture, they noticed that one of their managers had been posting about abusing prescription drugs and driving while intoxicated, both red flags that had been missed through the company's existing screening methods.

Earlier this year, we also helped a government based client with over 70,000 employees and $2.5B in revenue prevent a potentially major personnel incident. As a government contractor, the customer’s existing method was rigorous. Every employee had been run through a leading background screening provider, a skills-based assessment, and a 12-stage interview process. But after implementing an online screening solution, the company found that one of their employees, despite maintaining a security clearance, had posted in support of terrorist-affiliated movements on Twitter. The individual was terminated and the authorities alerted, saving the company from a potential disaster.

While traditional background checks offer a basic layer of protection, the truth is that they are no longer sufficient as a risk management tool. Moving forward, companies will need new technologies and processes to capture large volumes of user-generated content, and internal systems to manage a complex workforce that can make or break an organization's success.

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