WORCESTER, Mass., April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Human services organizations and non-profits know that it is critical to screen perspective employees and volunteers to ensure that their employees, volunteers and clients are protected. But, with reports that national criminal databases have up to a 41 percent error rate, identifying potential offenders can be a challenge. As a result, human services and non-profit organizations need to be extremely thorough when screening prospective employees and volunteers. To help in that effort, The Hanover Insurance Group today offered several practical tips that these organizations can use.
"Human service organizations are always on the lookout for the brightest, most talented and highly qualified people to add to their teams," said Jack C. Roche, President, business insurance at The Hanover. "The best organizations make screening applicants a top priority."
Although there is no foolproof way to identify potential abusers, there are some proven ways for human services organizations to help minimize the risks in their hiring process.
- Screen everyone - Whether the hiring person knows candidates personally, whether they come highly recommended by well-respected employees, or even if they are related to the top management of the organization, anyone who will be associated with a human service agency needs to be thoroughly screened.
- Conduct background checks early on - A complete background check should be a part of the screening process to help prevent those convicted of abuse from receiving any offer of employment. It is important to have the candidate sign an authorization for the background check, before one is performed. Be aware that if the background check is conducted by a third-party vendor, your organization must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act's pre-adverse and adverse notification requirements. Also, be sure to comply with all Federal, State and local laws on background checks.
- Be clear about your mission - Before a potential candidate even fills out an application, he or she should be given and asked to read the agency's policies on abuse, neglect and employee conduct. Upon hiring the candidate, have them sign a statement confirming that they fully understand those policies and that they will adhere to the policies at all times.
- Ask the right questions - Make sure that everyone involved in the interview process is formally trained on interview techniques for screening the potential candidate for abuse, (e.g., ask open ended questions, provide scenarios of potential incidents, etc.). Whenever possible try to have all candidates interview with multiple people. Any deviations or inconsistencies within the interviewing team should be seen as red flags that warrant follow-up.
- Check references – One of the best predictors of the future is the past. Reference checks provide critical information about candidates. Always seek verbal references, as written references are difficult to verify. Conversations can elicit much more information than written responses.