What Is Employee Screening?

Mary McMahon

Employee screening is a process in which a prospective employee is investigated to verify qualifications and confirm that the person would be a safe and appropriate match for the workplace. This screening can be performed by an external company, or it may be conducted by the potential employer. The practice of screening employees before making an offer of employment became very widespread in the early 20th century. Many people who apply for jobs can expect some degree of screening to occur as part of the application process.

Employee screening includes verifying qualifications and other information related to a job candidate.
Employee screening includes verifying qualifications and other information related to a job candidate.

There are several goals to employee screening. The first is to confirm that an employee is actually qualified for the position. The second is to identify any potential safety risks, including threats to physical safety in the workplace and the security of data the employee might handle. Screening is also designed to spot personality traits which may be beneficial or problematic.

There are several goals to employee screening.
There are several goals to employee screening.

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Companies which contract out employee screening services can select between a range of screening products. A screening company may conduct a criminal background check, test the applicant for drug use, perform a medical evaluation, and screen for competence. Companies which provide screening services can access public records which may provide relevant information about an employee's qualifications and trustworthiness. This information is packaged in a report which can be used when making hiring decisions.

Other companies may prefer to conduct screenings on their own. Some administer their own competency and personality tests in addition to performing background checks to gather information about potential employees. A private investigator may be hired for some parts of the screening process if a company wants more information on a job applicant, or the company may retain such an investigator on staff.

Such screening is performed for sensitive jobs and long-term positions where competence, qualifications, and personality can become important. In industries with high turnover, the interview and a quick check of references may be the only screening performed. Investing in employee screening in these cases would be impractical because of the cost.

There are some legal issues which surround screening. Companies which screen must be careful to avoid anti-discrimination laws. The screening should be relevant and consistent in nature, and companies may be barred from looking up certain types of information. To comply with the law, it is advisable to use a lawyer who specializes in employment law to evaluate the employee screening process and confirm that it does not violate any privacy or anti-discrimination laws.

Employee screening helps to determine if an employee is a good fit for the position.
Employee screening helps to determine if an employee is a good fit for the position.

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Discussion Comments


Employee background verification is not only limited for MNC but is also important for house keeping staff, drivers, security persons, cooks, etc.


@SauteePan: Need you be reminded that in this time of a depressed US economy that some great potential employees may have horrible credit due to being unemployed for a significant span of time. Or even, underemployed. How do so many other first world countries find excellent employees without using a credit check? The HR professionals actually do their job and ask relevant questions.

For a successful company to have a good HR department is to have accountants, some employment law attorneys and a few admin assistants. All other functions can be outsourced; thus, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would be interesting to watch the HR professionals I know find jobs based on their skill set. Many would end up in retail being underemployed!


Pre-employment screening is important as they can find out and potentially avoid potential staff that had drug problems, which can have a negative impact on the company's performance. Also, a company would prefer the healthiest person as they are an asset to the company and would have fewer sick days away from the office.


Musty – I just wanted to say that I was reading about a hospital in one of the New England states that actually performs employee health screenings for its potential employees.

They say that they will exclude anyone that has a history of smoking because they know that smoking causes all sorts of health concerns and higher insurance premiums as well.

This was a really controversial step the hospital took but many other companies are looking to follow as well.

Companies understand that healthy people will be the most productive and less likely to miss work because of health problems.

This translates to more revenue for the company. A lot of critics to this type of policy feel that it is only a matter of time before the overweight begin to get targeted.


SauteePan - I agree with you. I think that performing an employment background check is important too because there are people that lie about their qualifications in order to get a job.

Determining if a person held a position stated on their resume is important because if there is one lie that you uncover there will tend to be more.

This type of person is not trustworthy so they would not be hired. Some people even lie about their education so employers should verify that the employee does actually have the degree that they say that they have.

You can really tell a lot about a person based on the employment background check and it could save a company valuable time and money by hiring the right person the first time.

Some people can be very charming which is why companies have to look at these measures to ensure objectivity in hiring. The employee background screening is a great tool for companies to narrow down their selection process.


SurfNTurf - I think that a background screening is important for a company because most people put their best foot forward in an interview and a company really has to have a balanced look at the candidate they are hiring.

This also helps them avoid a person that could be dangerous or does not make good decisions.

For example, a person with a DUI may reflect poor judgment and excessive risk taking behavior. I know that a lot of companies also resort to credit checks in their pre employment screening.

Poor credit signals to a company that the candidate is not responsible and may have difficulty managing money.

In addition, some companies feel that a person with this profile might be a risky because they may resort to theft to solve their financial problems.

This is why companies tend to stay away from people with credit problems especially if the job requires access to financial records or cash handling.


I know that a lot of companies offer a background screening when they are in the process of hiring an employee.

Most companies require a drug test along with a criminal background check. In addition, a company may ask for references as well as other pre employment screening measures. Some companies offer the Myers-Briggs test in order to see if he candidate would be a good fit for the company.

The test measures personality traits and suggests which types of jobs the person would be suited for. For example, if they candidate scored D’s as their dominant character trait the test would reveal that the person has more of a directive personality that would be suited for a leadership position.

This type of person is hard working and is good at getting a team to meet their goals and work well under specified deadlines. These people can also be abrasive at times so employers have to balance that with the overall organizations goals.

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