7 Most Common Employment Screening Mistakes That Can Cost Your Business

Screening Mistakes by employees

Safeguard your business by avoiding the most common employment screening mistakes that can cost you time, money and reputation.

You know what it’s like. You’re short-staffed, you’ve got a huge project looming on the horizon, and you’re under the gun to make some hires. The last thing you want to do is slow down and think about your employment screenings.

But that’s exactly what you need to do. Background checks are an essential part of the hiring process—not just for preventing lawsuits, but for protecting your customers and employees, too. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), over half of all employers say they have caught a lie or misrepresentation on a resume or job application during the screening process.

Here are the common employment screening mistakes that can cost your business money and put you at legal risk:

  • Failing to Screen for Criminal Records

The first mistake is not screening for criminal records. Simply put, failing to screen for criminal records is one of the most common, and most costly mistakes a business can make. According to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), 75% of all job applicants lie on their resumes. Of that 75%, 63% are lying about their criminal history.

Many companies fail to screen for criminal records because they believe it’s too complicated or they don’t have the time or resources to do so. The reality is that there are a number of online services that can make the process quick and easy.

The risks of not screening for criminal records are clear: if an employee with a history of violence hurts another employee or customer, your company will be liable in court. Additionally, if a client gets hurt by an employee with a criminal record, your business could lose a customer forever.

You may think that applicants with criminal records are easy to spot, but you’d be surprised how many people leave them off their applications. A thorough background check is the only way to know for sure. In addition, if your company is found negligent in hiring a worker who harms another employee, customer or visitor on the premises, you could be sued.

  • Not checking references

Too often, employers make decisions based on gut instinct and initial impressions alone. A reference check will give you insight into how well a candidate works with others and how he or she handles responsibility. You’ll also learn whether the individual has been fired from or quit previous positions.

Before you hire an employee, it is important to conduct reference and background checks to verify that the information provided by the applicant is accurate. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 85% of employers have caught a lie on a resume. Contacting references allows you to get more information about the applicant and also tells the applicant that you are serious about hiring the right person for your business. This can avoid hiring someone who has lied about their qualifications or employment history.

  • No drug testing

You can add drug testing to your employment screening for new hires. If you do not test for drugs, you could be putting your company at risk if an employee shows up for work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You may also want to consider drug testing current employees if there is suspicion that they are using drugs on the job.

  • No credit checks

Employers sometimes check credit reports as part of their background screenings for new hires, particularly those in upper management positions. Credit history does not necessarily reflect on an individual’s character but failing to pay bills on time can indicate a lack of responsibility on the part of an employee and this can be a concern when hiring someone for a position that handles money or involves access to confidential information. However, if an employer uses credit checks to screen applicants for employment, it must comply with federal regulations that protect consumer credit information.

Credit check
  • No social media vetting

Social media has become a treasure trove of information for employers. And there are multiple sources you can use when doing a background check. There’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and others.

The benefit of checking social media is that it’s like having access to a person’s personal diary. You can see what they like, what they don’t like, their relationship status and even their political views. Sometimes the information you find on social media can help you decide whether a candidate is right for your company. On the other hand, if their Facebook profile is full of foul language or inappropriate photos, it could raise red flags about them as an employee.

Include social media in your hiring process by asking for permission to check it out during an interview or after you have made an offer to the candidate.

  • Not verifying education

Not verifying education is one of the seven most common employment screening mistakes. Verifying education is a must for several reasons. First, you need to know if your employee has the proper training to do the job. Second, you need to know if your employee’s resume is accurate. Third, it’s important to verify education because an employee’s level of education can determine their salary.

Many job applicants have been known to exaggerate their academic achievements in order to impress a potential employer. This can put your business at risk for legal action if you hire someone based on their degree when they don’t actually have it. Also, you’ll be paying someone more than they’re worth if you rely on the information on their resume without verifying it.This can also be costly when the new employee lacks the skills needed to do the job, or is unable to perform up to expectations. Verifying degrees and diplomas can help ensure that you hire candidates with the right qualifications for the job.

  • Illegal questions

Asking job candidates questions about their religion, sexual orientation, or race, for example, is illegal. If you’re found guilty of discrimination in hiring, you could face fines and other serious penalties. To ensure your screening interviews are fair and legal, ask only questions related to the job and avoid topics that could violate federal antidiscrimination laws. Also keep in mind that some states have their own laws on what employers cannot ask a candidate during an interview.


There’s no doubt that hiring the wrong employees can cost your business big-time. And it makes sense to do everything you reasonably can to avoid making bad hiring decisions. But there are also some common mistakes employers make when screening applicants that can cost them, too. Covered in this article are some of the most common ones to avoid. Do more research on what employment screening mistakes to avoid to ensure that you are not only hiring only the best employees, but also avoiding any legal mistake that can potentially cost your business.