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How to Perform Employee Background Checks, and Why It Matters

employee Sep 14, 2022

Every successful company needs qualified, dependable staff in order to achieve its business goals; however, assembling a top-notch team is no simple task.

Running a standardized background check on all employees, especially new hires, can increase your recruitment quality and mitigate most of the dangers associated with the hiring process.

Read on to learn more about how to successfully perform background checks on employees and why it matters.

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Why Perform Employee Background Checks?

Background checks are performed in order to obtain information about prospective workers from sources other than the candidates themselves. A typical background check involves investigating whether a candidate is unqualified for a job because of a past criminal conviction, traffic infractions, bad credit history, or a misrepresentation of their education or employment history.

While many people slightly embellish their achievements and skills in their resumes, cover letters, and job interviews, a small percentage of new recruits may be outright dishonest about certain elements of their work history.

For some businesses, a minor fabrication might not be a significant cause for concern, but for others, it could prove detrimental to the quality of your work or business reputation somewhere down the line.

Background checks typically entail contacting the applicant’s past employers, supervisors, and educators in order to verify prior employment and learn more about the applicant’s knowledge, skills, abilities, and character. They also screen for any potential fraudulent activity the applicant may have been involved in.

How to Run a Background Check on a New or Potential Hire

Here are some essential elements to consider when running a background check on a new or potential employee.

Create and Adhere to a Recruitment Screening Policy

If your company does not have its own employee screening policy (i.e. a document outlining the steps and legal protocols behind background checks), the first step is to create one in collaboration with your legal team and HR.

A standard recruitment screening policy defines the point at which the checks shall be conducted (e.g. before or after a job offer is made), what kind of individuals will be subject to background checks, and how the findings of background checks will influence hiring decisions.

Conducting background checks on everyone within your organization is recommended practice, but you should definitely customize the process for each individual role, depending on the level of responsibility and work engagement. For instance, jobs involving financial management should require credit checks, while jobs that involve driving should require driving record checks. More on that below.

Request the Candidate’s Personal Details

Background checks are typically performed by a certified agency or relevant service provider. In order to complete a background check, the provider will request that you collect personal information from your candidates. This information usually includes basic contact details such as a candidate’s full name, address, and phone number.

However, in order to perform certain types of checks, the agency will need to confirm the candidate’s identity through additional information, such as their social security number and/or date of birth.

It should be noted that some countries require a company to provide a formal job offer to the candidate before a background check may be initiated; therefore, it is crucial to collaborate with your legal department or seek external legal advice before starting the screening process.

Types of Background Checks

For legal reasons, certain positions are liable to specific or limited types of background checks. The most common checks include employment history, reference checks, criminal records, credit checks, and education history.

Other checks to consider depending on the type of role you have advertised are military records, driving records, tax liens, and civil court records.

Conversely, there are some checks you will not be able to perform on any new hire; these checks include protected personal information related to the worker’s medical history, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or any disabilities they may have.

Assessing the Results of a Background Check

Once you have access to the results of a background check, carefully examine them to decide whether your candidate is qualified to work for you or not. If the information you gather is concerning, you may choose to move on to another candidate who might be a better fit for your organization.

Alternatively, you may wish to gather feedback from the candidate regarding the findings. Some of the ostensible warning signs from a background check may not necessarily indicate that an applicant should not be hired. It may be wise to have a discussion with the prospective candidate before deciding not to proceed with the recruitment.

Moreover, you might not be able to terminate an existing employee’s contract or a new applicant’s job offer unless there is a concerning element that directly relates to their position. Again, consult with your legal team if you are unsure whether to move forward with a hiring decision based on the results of a background check.

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Final Considerations

Running background checks on employees is a vital step in achieving your corporate objectives by allowing you to build a high-quality team. Find a background check service provider who will be able to supply the data you require while assisting you in maintaining compliance, and customize your recruitment screening policy to your specific industry and the positions you are advertising.

Consider how your reaction to the results of a background check may be interpreted by the law. Above all, be mindful that you may not, and should not, base any hiring decisions on discriminatory factors such as a person’s race, gender, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Ultimately, a negative response to a candidate’s application must be lawful if it is based on a background check.


Zoi Kotsou

Copywriter - Content writer - Content Strategist

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