Hire smarter: background checks and references the Canadian way

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Like any business decision, we often make it with our head and our gut. Hiring new team members is no different. One of the “head” aspects of hiring that you should do is references and background checks. But before you run to google and type in the name of that candidate, read this article!

In Canada there are strict rules around human rights and privacy. Both of these are considerations with your checks. For human rights, you want to ensure you aren’t basing or could be perceived as basing a decision on one of the protected characteristics. These vary slightly province-to-province but for federally regulated companies, they are: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

One way to do this is to ensure you don’t collect any information that could signal those characteristics. If a candidate shares it with you, don’t make note or share with other interviewers. And given the personal nature of platforms like Facebook, it is recommended you don’t search social media as it may contain anything from photos of their family to posts of fiftieth birthday wishes flooding them last week.

If you're thinking of LinkedIn searches, make sure the checks are:

  • Reasonable

  • Necessary

  • Relevant

  • and that you have consent

Also, keep a record of what you find - print screen and save so can show what you found and based hiring decision on.

Another common check is references. We highly recommend calling 2-3 references that are provided by the candidate. Do not call other companies or individuals they may have worked with unless you have consent. Ask specific questions regarding behaviours and experience you need of the candidate in the role. We also always end with these two questions:

  • Would you hire/want to work with this person again?

  • Anything else you’d like to add or that we should be aware of?

The first gives us a summary, kind of like the marketing Net Promoter Score. And the second gives them an opportunity to clarify or fill in a gap you may not have asked a question about. Over the years of recruiting we’ve done, have had some of the most insightful comments made during those two concluding queries.

There are several other different background checks that can be done such as drug & alcohol, driver abstract, criminal, credit score, medical, etc. With all of them, ensure you have obtained consent, they are actually relevant to the job requirements, necessary to assessing the candidate and are reasonable.

Looking for recruitment and selection guidance? BrightGo Solutions offers workforce planning solutions in addition to both out-sourced and supported recruitment to meet your needs.