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Background Screening Tips: What to Look for When Hiring for the Retail Industry

Christian Moore
Christian Moore
Guest Contributor

For retail professionals, smart hiring is among the most important actions for ensuring customer safety, minimizing theft and protecting the brand’s reputation.]

Retailers face a unique set of challenges in the business world. When it comes to hiring workers, one concern dominates: theft by employees.

Goods that go missing due to so-called “shrinkage” cost retailers in the United States about $42 billion annually, or $403 for every U.S. household. Across the globe, employee theft accounts for
roughly 28 percent of losses; in this country, employees bear responsibility for 43 percent.

For retail employers wishing to bring on reliable, honest workers, background screenings should playYou're hired a key role in hiring.

What should retail professionals look for during the screening process to bring in trustworthy workers? Here are four important factors to consider when reviewing background information on prospective candidates.

Motivation for a Job Change

In retail settings, employees often have access to tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise and cash. By asking the right questions, you can minimize your risk of hiring workers motivated solely by money.

Ask candidates how they’d respond if their current boss offered them more money to stay. A candidate who would immediately reconsider your offer in exchange for a salary boost likely is not someone you want to hire for your retail establishment.

In addition, be sure you’re not making an offer to someone who has been given the ultimatum to find another job or be fired. Candidates typically will not share this information outright, but a good interviewer can read between the lines to uncover genuine reasons behind the desire for a job change.

Legitimacy of References

Bear in mind that some candidates will take desperate measures to get hired, up to and including having friends or family members write letters of recommendation — or even forging them. Consider performing at least two reference checks in which you speak directly with the individual.

Resist the urge to email instead of calling. By speaking on the phone, you take an extra step toward verifying the true identity of the reference, and you may pick up some valuable information in the tone of voice or hesitancy to answer certain questions.

Be sure to have your candidate’s permission to speak with all references. Ask about basic facts such as dates of employment and job titles, and include some open-ended questions that encourage the reference to go into detail on characteristics like reliability and honesty.

Potential Drug Use

For the safety of your customers and the integrity of your brand and reputation, you’ll want to make sure that prospective employees are not drug users. By working with an experienced background screening firm, you can incorporate reliable testing methods into your screening process. Options for confirming that candidates are drug-free include both lab-based and on-site tests.

A background screening provider can ensure that you gain the proper permissions from candidates and follow all applicable local, state and federal regulations.

Social Media Presence

Just about everyone frequents some form of social media these days, and it’s important to include this source of information in your hiring process. An employee can cause significant damage to your brand by disclosing proprietary information or intentionally disparaging your company through social media.

Performing a search yourself comes with risks, however. If you unwittingly uncover information related to gender, race, age, disabilities and other protected categories — and, especially, if you use that information in your hiring — you become exposed to legal action for discrimination. A reputable background screening provider can vet social media information for you, while adhering to all laws and helping shield you from liability.

Used appropriately, social media can constitute an important part of your background screening process, providing you with valuable information about illegal drug use and other undesirable behavior.

For retail professionals, smart hiring is among the most important actions you can take for ensuring customer safety, minimizing theft and protecting your reputation. Background screenings can provide you with the right information to make solid hiring decisions.

About the writer: Christian Moore is COO at Global Verification Network. He has more than 20 years of investigative and business experience with competencies including surveillance, competitive intelligence, pre-employment and course-of-employment background screening. 

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