Pre-employment Screening: Know Who You Hire


If you are considering hiring a new recruit to your business, it is recommended that you conduct a pre-employment screening. This process is especially important if your business involves working with children or in matters of law and justice. It’s not a question of distrust, but rather proper due diligence on your part. It is wise to ensure before hiring someone that they can be trusted to carry out their roles and responsibilities in an honest and ethical manner.

What is pre-screening?

Put simply, pre-employment screening is the process of verifying the details the candidate placed in their application. This may include verifying previous employers, referees, skills, experience, and qualifications.

You may feel that, for privacy reasons, the kinds of questions you can ask a candidate are limited. However, it is legally possible to make a number of enquiries about your candidate in a pre-screening process.

Police Check

First and foremost, you can conduct a Police Check. This is obtained through police records and involves determining whether or not the candidate has a criminal record. When you conduct a Police Check, you will be provided with information about that person’s criminal convictions (if any), pending court proceedings, or any findings of guilt. If ten years have passed from the date of any conviction, that conviction is determined to be a ‘spent conviction’ and no longer recorded. It will not appear on any Police Check.

Working with Children Check

If you are in a business that involves working with children, such as teaching, or you are looking to hire a nanny/babysitter or carer, you will need to conduct a Working with Children Check. In some states, this check is a legal requirement and some candidates may require prior screening before attempting to enter such industries. You can ask if your candidate has their Working with Children check record on them during or after the interview. A good candidate may already have that information on hand when they know they are applying for a job that requires that check.

A Working with Children Check differs from a Police Check as it makes an assessment of the individual’s level of risk regarding children’s safety. It draws from more sources of information, and is not simply a criminal convictions record. For example, a Working with Children Check may also include whether an individual has been charged with an offence relating to the harm or mistreatment of a child, and ‘spent’ convictions are also noted.

If you wish to conduct a Police Check or a Working with Children Check, it tends to take some time to receive a confirmed response. It may be useful to factor this into your timeline for filling in the position. The delay it takes should not discourage you from conducting the tests. Should you hire a candidate prior to conducting a Police Check, it may reveal a criminal background that makes them highly unsuitable for the role they just filled.

Other checks

There are also other pre-screening matters that may be worth conducting due diligence on. Many applicants may not tell the complete truth on their CV or job application. It is recommended that pre-screening measures are adopted across all the various details provided by the applicant. For example:

  1. Check their references: a telephone call or an e-mail can provide a quick response and may make a world of difference to the assessment of your candidate. When you are contacting the referee it is well worth checking whether the work your candidate asserted they did in the job is in fact what they did.
  2. Check their credentials: it may be relatively straight forward to see if your candidate is appropriately licensed or has been admitted to the relevant professional boards.

Ultimately, if you are going to go through the process of interviews and applications, it is well worth conducting pre-screening measures to ensure that the candidate’s application is in fact genuine. This way you can be confident that the person you hire is a person you can trust.