Contractors' Questions: How to sail through pre-employment screening?

Contractor’s Question: A contractor I know lost a few days’ income because the client didn’t receive certain references in time from the pre-screening firm. The client didn’t let the contractor start work because the references were still with pre-screening worker 'A', who failed to send them to his replacement, pre-screening worker 'B'.

Unfortunately, I’m next to use the firm! It's for a similar IT role at the same client -- an investment bank. What’s the best way to approach the vetting process if I want to sail through it ASAP and avoid hiccups?

Expert’s Answer: The pre-employment screening process should be approached with care. You should set aside some time, go through the questions carefully and answer them all fully. Provide the documentation requested, even if it doesn’t seem relevant. 

Most importantly, ensure that all your answers are precise. For example, if your title in a previous role was ‘X’ don’t represent this as ‘Senior X’ as this kind of discrepancy, while apparently minor, can cause delays.

If there are issues at the firm you’re going through, try to understand that the person carrying out the screening is just following rules set by the client, and that their job is to help you get screened successfully. Sometimes this can feel intrusive, but becoming frustrated with the process has the tendency to slow things down. 

We frequently come up against the perception that senior contractors don’t need to pay attention to the screening process. That’s completely understandable - you may have an incredibly strong reputation, and have worked for many other companies before without issue, so it can be challenging to see why certain questions are relevant. 

However, it’s important to follow the process carefully even if the questions or documentation demanded seem irrelevant. Not doing so has become a critical barrier in many cases.

Regarding your colleague, it can indeed be very frustrating when screening delays lead to lost income. With the traditional screening process, it is very hard to ensure these delays are avoided. But if you do have to work with a traditional screening company, we’d suggest that you complete the screening forms as early as possible. We also recommend you liaise closely with your screening firm to check whether they have all they need at each stage of the process.

In your colleague’s particular situation, it sounds like he did all that was asked of him and still ended up having his file rejected, through no fault of his own. That said, he would need to take independent advice from a legal expert to determine whether the screening firm is liable, as it will depend on their terms/contract.

The expert was Simon Bichara, founder of HiredByMe, a specialist in instant pre-employment screening.

Editor's Note: Related Reading -

Contractors' Questions: Any IR35 risk to 'pre-employment' survey?

Contractors' Questions: What checks should I expect?

Financial services contracts - what's involved in pre-employment screening?

Monday 5th Jan 2015
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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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