Pre-employment screenings have become a common part of the hiring process, with a standard portion of the process a criminal background check. While you can constrain your search to cover only the employee’s county of residence, it is often advised to expand your reach to include the applicant’s full state. This is done to ensure that an applicant is not hiding a criminal record outside of his or her home region.
What does it do?
A statewide criminal record search collects records from all counties within a given state. There are few true state criminal history repositories and the quality of the information found varies based on the state’s guidelines as well as the individual county’s frequency of reporting.
If a statewide criminal database is available, it will pull information from multiple sources. This can include, but is not limited to prior county criminal record, county criminal databases, the Department of Corrections and the state sex offender registry.
How is it lacking?
Statewide databases are notoriously incomplete or full of out-of-date information and might not be compliant with the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) or similar state laws. Some state record systems only contain knowledge of felony infractions or only provide information on current inmates rather than all convictions. Also, the data that is reported is minimal, with few details.
These discrepancies can be contributed to the huge variance in each individual state’s requirements for county reporting and a local government’s method of submitting data. If the reports are mailed to the state office and must be manually entered into a computer system, it could be an extended period of time before the online records are updated.
Because of these disparities, any information that is found should be researched more thoroughly in the local office of the county in which the infraction was committed. County offices will have more details and quicker access to the information.
How is it useful?
Even with this limitations, it is still advised that employers run a statewide background check on any potential employees during a pre-employment screening. The search might not give many details, but it does offer more information on criminal activity than a county search and can give you a lead to investigate further.
Also, these checks can be performed relatively quickly. However, any information found does require further research at the local level, which can extend the turnaround time for final results.
What is needed?
While the amount varies, most states will charge a fee to run this background check. Also, an authorization form from the applicant is required as well as certain identifying information such the full name, date of birth, social security number and county of residence.
A statewide background check might not be the most detailed or accurate document, but it is a valuable resource for employers. It not only serves as an excellent starting point for a pre-employment screening process, but can also help distinguish which candidates are a valid investment for a company.