How to Deal with False Positives in Employment Screening


Employment screening is a crucial process for any organization, as it helps ensure that they hire only the best candidates for the job. However, one challenge that recruiters and HR managers face is dealing with false positives, which are results that indicate a candidate may be unsuitable for the job, but upon further investigation, turn out to be inaccurate. False positives can cause a lot of problems, such as lost time, lost productivity, and even lawsuits if they are not handled properly. In this article, we will discuss how to deal with false positives in employment screening.

Understand the Causes of False Positives

Before we can tackle the issue of false positives, it is essential to understand what causes them. False positives can arise from a variety of factors, such as:

  • Inaccurate or incomplete information: Sometimes, candidates may provide inaccurate or incomplete information on their resumes or applications, which can lead to false positives.
  • Outdated or incorrect background check data: Background checks are only as good as the data they rely on, and if the data is outdated or incorrect, it can lead to false positives.
  • Human error: Even the most meticulous HR professional can make mistakes, and errors in the screening process can lead to false positives.
  • Bias: Unconscious bias can cause recruiters or hiring managers to make assumptions about candidates based on their background, race, gender, or other factors, which can lead to false positives.

By understanding the causes of false positives, HR managers can take steps to reduce their occurrence and mitigate their impact.

Use Multiple Screening Methods

One way to reduce false positives in employment screening is to use multiple screening methods. Instead of relying solely on a background check or reference check, use a combination of methods such as:

  • Skills assessments: Skills assessments can help determine if a candidate has the necessary skills to perform the job. These assessments can be designed to measure technical skills, soft skills, or a combination of both.
  • Behavioral assessments: Behavioral assessments can provide insights into a candidate’s work style, communication style, and problem-solving abilities. These assessments can help determine if a candidate is a good fit for the company culture.
  • Reference checks: Reference checks can help verify a candidate’s employment history, education, and other credentials. However, it is important to verify the authenticity of the references, as false references can lead to false positives.
  • Background checks: Background checks can provide information on a candidate’s criminal history, credit history, and other background information. However, as mentioned earlier, it is important to ensure that the data used for background checks is accurate and up-to-date.

By using multiple screening methods, HR managers can get a more comprehensive picture of a candidate’s qualifications and reduce the likelihood of false positives.

Establish Clear Screening Criteria

Another way to reduce false positives is to establish clear screening criteria. HR managers should work with hiring managers to determine the minimum qualifications for the job and the desired skills and experience. By establishing clear screening criteria, recruiters can avoid making subjective judgments and reduce the impact of unconscious bias.

Train Recruiters and Hiring Managers

Training recruiters and hiring managers on how to conduct effective employment screening can also help reduce false positives. Recruiters and hiring managers should be trained on:

  • The importance of accurate and complete information: Recruiters and hiring managers should emphasize the importance of candidates providing accurate and complete information on their resumes and applications.
  • The use of multiple screening methods: Recruiters and hiring managers should be trained on the various screening methods available and how to use them effectively.
  • The importance of verifying data: Recruiters and hiring managers should be trained on how to verify data used for screening, such as references and background checks.
  • The impact of unconscious bias: Recruiters and hiring managers should be trained on how to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias in the screening process


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