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Background Screening and Investigations: Managing Hiring Risk from the HR and Security Perspectives

Background Screening and Investigations: Managing Hiring Risk from the HR and Security Perspectives. By Barry Nixon, SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources), and Kim Kerr, CPP; published by Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann; 352 pages; $50.

Managing risk in the hiring process can be a challenging task for an organization’s human resources (HR) and security departments. Having the right resources and experience to properly conduct a background screening or an investigation is vital. Fortunately, there is a growing amount of valuable material available. Background Screening and Investigations is one of them.

Authors Barry Nixon and Kim Kerr lay a good foundation by explaining the risks posed by not having an appropriate screening process. Next, they address how legal issues can affect background screening and an organization as a whole. The authors then explain how security and HR must collaborate in this important process.

The chapter titled “Background Checking Policy” is one of the book’s many highlights. Nixon and Kerr explain the importance of having a policy in place and the laws governing background screening. The usefulness of this chapter cannot be overstated. The reader could easily use the authors’ detailed arguments in making the case to management that a policy is needed. Later, the chapter provides detailed examples of hiring policies, focusing on specific issues the documents must address.

The authors’ chapter on sex offenders is highly detailed and useful. Here, the authors explain not only how to detect a potential employee’s history as a sex offender but also how employing a predator can hurt the company beyond the obvious workplace threats it poses, such as in community outreach programs. The authors further differentiate between preemployment screening and sexual predator-prevention screening, with the help of a chart. Legal issues are discussed in detail here too, keeping readers up-to-date as they formulate plans.

In one interesting and unique part of the book, Nixon and Kerr examine how background screening of previously incarcerated persons (PIPs) affects society in general. The authors point out that while background checks improve workplace safety, they inadvertently contribute to recidivism when PIPs have difficulty finding work. The chapter offers a state-by-state listing of laws governing the use of criminal records for employment and makes the reader consider issues beyond the traditional scope of background screening.

Other chapters in this book are just as detailed and informative. Those who conduct background screening or investigations know the importance of keeping current on the ever-changing environment of background screening. Background Screening and Investigations is an important resource that anyone involved in hiring or the background screening business should keep close at hand.

Reviewer: Peter Psarouthakis is a professional investigator and owner of EWI & Associates, Inc., in Chelsea, Michigan. He is first vice president of the National Council of Investigation and Security Services and is a member of the ASIS Investigations Council.