Here are some best practices to consider when conducting your criminal background checks:
- Save time and resources by delaying criminal background checks until the end of your screening and selection process. For some organizations, this may be required by state law or regulation. Applicants who do not make it through the written applications, personal interviews, and reference checks will not need a criminal background check.
- Obtain permission from applicants before beginning a criminal background check. Ensure all names and their date of birth are correct. Any incorrect information may result in missing criminal background information.
- Determine the type and level of check required for each applicant. Records are not always linked or comprehensive, so a thorough search may be needed to address concerns about an applicant. For instance, if an applicant has moved frequently, checks in multiple states may be necessary.
- Plan for the time and financial resources needed to conduct background checks.
- Decide which offenses to examine in the background checks and which offenses will disqualify applicants. For work with children/youth, absolute disqualifiers include violent behavior and child sexual abuse perpetration history. Depending on the risk of the situation or the mission of your organization, drug and driving offenses may also be disqualifiers. Arrest data are not grounds for disqualification; only offenses resulting in convictions may be used.
- Develop procedures to keep the results of criminal background checks confidential. Select a secure storage location and limit access to the files to authorized personnel only.
- Ensure that your organization’s process for conducting criminal background checks is legally sound. Consult county, state, and national laws and regulations, as well as your organization’s attorney and insurance company, as needed.
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