An employers' guide to adverse media checks

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Jordie Black
Updated on:

Adverse media checks are an essential part of the hiring process for many organisations. An adverse media check is a search for any negative news stories or reports that may have been written about a potential candidate.

This type of background check can help employers make informed decisions regarding their hiring practices and provide insight into how an individual may behave in certain situations and their character traits.

By conducting such checks, organisations can ensure that they are making wise choices when selecting new employees and avoiding bad hires who could potentially damage the company's reputation or harm its operations.

adverse media check sources

Benefits of adverse media checks

Adverse media checks offer a range of benefits across various sectors. Despite their core function being risk mitigation, their applicability is not limited to the financial industry. They are useful for many regulated industries such as insurance companies and law firms. 

benefits of adverse media checks

The effectiveness of adverse media checks can be measured through various metrics:

  • Coverage of sources 
  • Relevant and reliable sources are considered to assess potential risks
  • Is there the ability to verify across multiple locations

How to conduct manual  adverse media checks

To effectively integrate adverse media checks into your hiring process, consider the following steps:

Establish a clear policy

Develop a clear policy outlining when and how adverse media checks will be conducted. This policy should include guidelines on which candidates will be asked to have an adverse media check,  and how the results will be used in the hiring decision-making.

Train HR staff and hiring managers

Ensure your HR staff and hiring managers are adequately trained to conduct and interpret adverse media checks. This will help ensure consistent implementation of the policy across the organisation.

Ensure compliance with legal requirements

Compliance with local candidate privacy laws is essential. Consult legal counsel to ensure your adverse media check policy meets applicable regulations.

Monitor and review the process

Regularly review and monitor the effectiveness of your adverse media check process. Make adjustments as needed to improve efficiency, accuracy, and compliance.

Collate sources

Consider the nature of the role  and where adverse information about them is most likely to be published. For example, if the individual is a public figure, they might be mentioned in mainstream news outlets or popular social media platforms. In contrast, someone in a specific industry might have relevant information in niche blogs or industry-related databases. This step aims to cast a wide net to capture as much potentially relevant information as possible.

Candidate information search: Once the sources are identified, commence searching using the candidate's full name, any known aliases, and possible name variations. Be mindful that common names can generate numerous results, including individuals who share the same name but are not your candidate. In such cases, additional distinguishing factors such as location, profession, or age might be useful to refine the search and isolate the correct individual. You might be able to access public archives or can consult a search engine like Google to conduct thiese checks.

Note: conducting these checks manually is often a time consuming and arduous task.

Results evaluation: After gathering potential adverse information, the next step involves carefully evaluating the results. Analyse the information to determine its relevance, credibility, and potential impact. Pay particular attention to the context of each mention – how it is connected to the candidate, its relevance to their role, and the potential risks it might pose. Not all negative information is equally significant or pertinent to a risk assessment or hiring decision. 

Findings documentation: Lastly, document all findings with meticulous detail. This should include the source of the information, the date it was found, any associated links, and a summary of the information and its relevance. This documentation is crucial for maintaining transparency, supporting decision-making, and complying with legal or regulatory requirements. Detailed records also allow for a future review of the process and decisions made, which is helpful for continuous improvement and accountability.

Challenges of manual adverse media checks

Manual adverse media checks entail several challenges that must be tackled for effective outcomes. 

Acquiring the right sources of information. Not all organisations may have access to every news outlet, blog, social media platform, or other relevant source where adverse information could be found. As a result, crucial data may be missed, hindering comprehensive risk assessments.

The sheer volume of available sources adds complexity to the process. Manually filtering through this massive amount of data demands meticulous attention, precision, and a considerable investment of time.

The potential for human error in any manual procedure is a significant concern. Mistakes and details can be overlooked, and misinterpretations can occur, especially when dealing with complex information and large data volumes.

Automating adverse media screening 

  • Efficiency: A key advantage of automating the screening process is increased efficiency. By leveraging technology, organisations can achieve quicker and more accurate results, significantly reducing the time spent on manual checks. This allows hiring managers to focus on other crucial aspects of the recruitment process.

automated adverse media checks

  • Consistency. Ensuring a uniform approach to screening across the entire organisation minimises the risk of human error or bias. This consistency also promotes fairness and transparency in hiring, strengthening an organisation's reputation as a fair and responsible employer.
  • Compliance. Automated screening tools help maintain compliance by being easily updated to reflect laws and industry standards changes. This adaptability ensures that organisations always adhere to the most current requirements, thus mitigating the risk of non-compliance penalties.
  • Scalability. Scalability is a vital consideration for businesses experiencing fluctuations in hiring volumes. Automated screening solutions effortlessly accommodate these variations, guaranteeing a streamlined process regardless of the number of candidates being assessed. This flexibility enables organisations to respond effectively to changing workforce needs while maintaining rigorous hiring standards.

Final thoughts

Adverse media checks are crucial in preserving a company's reputation and integrity. By meticulously screening potential hires for negative information, organisations mitigate the risk of associating with individuals who might engage in criminal or unethical behaviour. 

This thorough vetting process is vital in highly regulated industries, where non-compliance leads to severe consequences.

Embracing these best practices safeguards a company's reputation and fosters an environment built on trust, responsibility, and professionalism.

Explore Zinc’s adverse media solution or get in touch to see it in action. 

With Zinc you’ll benefit from:

  • Request checks direct from your existing ATS for a streamlined workflow.
  • See candidates’ check status within the app
  • Fast turnaround times. On average, adverse media checks with Zinc take 14 minutes to complete 

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