Benefits of Pre Employment Screening

Pre Employment Screening is a term often talked about among management without the full benefits and controls that it can bring to bear on a business being appreciated and understood. The following is a Q & A format to explain the issues that Pre Employment Screening can treat.

What is PES?
PES is the abbreviation commonly used for `Pre Employment Screening’. PES generally refers to the process whereby a prospective employer arranges for information relating to a potential candidate to be checked and verified to confirm the suitability of the candidate for employment or as a contractor.

Why do companies use PES?
PES provides an objective assessment as to the potential candidate’s capacity and capability to undertake the duties & responsibilities as per their experience and qualifications. The prospective employer has the ability to assess whether the candidate has fully disclosed their attributes and or any negative incidents such as a bankruptcy record or having being terminated by a previous employer.

Which companies use PES?
Some companies are required to undertake mandatory PES by the government, such as banks and insurance companies. Others choose to do as a risk mitigation and management planning tool and cover a wide spectrum of industries from retail, transport, manufacturing to mining. Many not for profit agencies and other volunteer organisations also conduct PES on prospective employees to screen out unsuitable or undesirable candidates.

Isn’t PES a method used to `catch people out?’
This is a common misconception among some potential candidates. PES is directed at verifying the potential candidates claimed attributes and highlighting any inconsistencies between what is stated and what is found during the PES process. It is for the employer to assess the suitability of the candidate for the position based on a host of considerations.

So how does PES work?
The general approach is to have potential candidate supply personal information in writing which relates directly to their employment such as education attainment, working history, job experience, references from previous employers etc. This information is usually supplied by submitting a standard form and supplying copies of any qualifications such as a Degrees or membership of a professional society.

Next is the verification process. Armed with a consent release from the candidate, contact is made with the relevant education intuitions [universities, colleges, TAFE, high schools etc], former employers and references provided by the candidate to ascertain whether the claims made by the candidate are accurate and valid. A report is compiled detailing these findings and submitted to the requesting potential employer or organisation. Any discrepancies between what the candidate has submitted and what was discovered during the verification process are given a `red flag’ for the client to consider.

Is consent from the potential candidate required?
Many countries have some form of Data Privacy law that requires that the candidate must first provide written consent before these PES checks can be undertaken. Most institutions will require viewing a copy of the consent release signed by the candidate before disclosing any information.

What other kinds of things can be checks can be performed?
There are a variety of background checks which can be undertaken for a prospective candidate depending on the country where the candidate is located and to what the prospective employer wishes to check the background. These checks include the following:

  • Record of directorships or shareholdings in private companies
  • Bankruptcy record
  • Previous residential addresses
  • Civil litigation history
  • Media profile
  • Criminal record
  • Record of any regulatory agency actions

How focused is PES?
PES is as focused as the requesting company or organisation wants it to be. For example, a transportation company would think it crucial to confirm that a potential candidate for a driver position should have a clean driving licence, whilst a different firm engaging someone as a financial assistant may consider this check unnecessary. A qualified PES firm should be able to advice as to which checks are germane to the position which the candidate has applied for.

How many years does a PES check go?
Generally a PES check goes back between 5 and 10 years for previous employment whereas records such as bankruptcy and civil litigation can go back 20 years or more. With employee turnover increasing in most industries and companies merging or being bought out, employment records are difficult to obtain longer than 10 years back

How many days does PES check take?
The actual time will vary depending on the number of attributes to be verified, the location and the type of checks involved. Generally, a PES report can be completed within five days but some component checks can take longer to complete [e.g. criminal history checks].

But I heard that recruitment agencies do PES?
Not really, no. Some recruitment agencies do undertake some basic background checks to corroborate the candidate’s history but few recruitment agencies conduct what can be considered a thorough PES. Unlike a PES firm, recruitment agencies are looking to fill a vacancy and focus on selecting a candidate.

What are the downsides to PES?
Very little. Other than having to pay a small fees for the PES check and a slight delay between choosing a candidate and having them confirmed as being suitable.

Compare with this the risks and damage caused when hiring the wrong or inappropriate candidate. The direct costs can include the waste spent on the recruitment and training of the person, costs and difficulties with terminating their employment and possible damages claims.

However, the risks can be even more severe than this including damage to the company’s brand or share price plus the machinations of deposing of an unsuitable employee when they hold a more senior role. Compensation paid to wronged parties can quickly escalate and there are multiple examples of how much harm a rogue employee can cause an organisation – examples include Dr Jayant Patel hired by Queensland Health as surgeon despite being restricted from certain operations by the State of Oregon, USA and New Zealand chief scientist Stephen Wilce having falsified his resume. A standard PES check should have raised these red flags prior to them being hired and causing harm and damage to the reputation of the organisations involved.

PES is recognised as an integral first step for anti fraud measures protecting an organisation. By screening any prospective employee or contractor the organisation can save itself some serious grief in the future. On occasions this first step of PES will ward off potential fraudsters / under achievers simply by demonstrating that the organisation takes PES serious. We have had instances whereby applicants have declined to submit their details and walk away – possibly an indication that they will move on and try to join an organisation that isn’t so particular.

Are you seeking assistance with Pre Employment Screening of employees or contractors? If so, we at Regents can help you – just visit our Pre Employment Screening Webpage for further information