Implementing background checks can appear to be a daunting task, akin to navigating uncharted territory. 

But fret not, with the right guidance, you can effortlessly make it happen. 

This comprehensive guide eases you through the intricate maze of candidate vetting, offering practical solutions to common challenges. 

Are you set to bolster your hiring process? Read on.

What is a background check?

A background check is a comprehensive process used by recruiters, individuals, or organizations to gather in depth information about a potential employee’s personal, professional, and financial history.

It involves verifying the accuracy of the information provided by the job applicants, identifying red flags and assessing any other additional information deciding their suitability for a specific role or responsibility.

Background checks are crucial for making informed hiring decisions, ensuring workplace safety, protecting the company’s reputation, and complying with legal and regulatory frameworks.

6 reasons why background checks are important

1. Verifying candidate information

One of the primary reasons for conducting background checks is to verify the accuracy and truthfulness of the information provided by candidates.

This includes validating their educational qualifications, employment history, professional certifications, employment verification, eligibility and other relevant details.

Employers must confirm these credentials from previous employers to ensure they hire candidates with the right skills and experience.

reasons why background checks are important

2. Mitigating risks for workplace safety

Background checks play a vital role in identifying potential risks to workplace safety.

By thoroughly screening job applicants, recruiters can uncover any criminal records, instances of violence, felonies or other concerning behavior that might threaten the organization’s and its employees’ well-being.

This step helps create a secure onboarding and harmonious work environment for everyone.

3. Protecting company reputation

Maintaining a solid and reputable brand image is essential for every organization.

Background checks assist in safeguarding a company’s reputation by ensuring that the new hires reflect the organization’s values and ethics.

Keeping an eye on the background and characteristics of candidates can help recruiters avoid hiring people who may commit fraudulent activities, engage in unethical behavior, or otherwise harm the company’s reputation.

4. Reducing liability and legal threats

Thorough background checks help companies minimize potential liability and legal threats associated with negligent hiring.

Negligent hiring refers to situations where an employer fails to exercise reasonable care in the hiring process, leading to harm caused by an employee.

The more comprehensive the background check, the more likely recruiters will demonstrate that they evaluated the new employee’s qualifications and mitigated any known risks.

5. Building trust and credibility

Background checks also build trust and credibility, both internally and externally. Internally, employees feel secure knowing that their organization prioritizes their safety and well-being.

Externally, clients, customers, and stakeholders gain confidence in the organization’s commitment to responsible recruitment practices.

6. Ensuring regulatory compliance

Certain industries and positions are subject to specific legal requirements and regulations. Background checks enable companies to comply with these obligations, ensuring they meet the standards set by federal law.

Non-compliance can result in penalties, legal disputes, and reputational damage for employers who fail to perform the required background checks.

5 types of background checks

1. Criminal background checks

Criminal background checks involve reviewing an individual’s criminal records, including arrests, convictions, and pending charges.

This is essential for positions requiring a high level of trust, working with vulnerable populations, or having access to sensitive information or valuable assets.

2. Employment and education verification

Employment and education verification checks confirm the accuracy and validity of an individual’s stated work experience and educational qualifications on their resumes.

By conducting this process, employers can validate candidates’ information regarding their employment history, job titles, responsibilities, and educational degrees.

3. Reference checks

Reference checks involve contacting the candidate’s provided references, such as former supervisors, colleagues, or mentors.

These checks delve deep into the candidate’s character, work ethic, interpersonal abilities, and overall suitability for the job, providing recruiters with invaluable information to make well-informed hiring decisions.

4. Credit history checks

Credit history checks are typically conducted for positions that involve financial responsibilities or access to sensitive financial information.

Credit checks examine an individual’s credit report to assess their financial stability, responsible handling of debts, and potential risks associated with financial misconduct.

It’s important to note that credit history checks must comply with applicable laws and regulations, including obtaining candidate consent and adhering to fair credit reporting practices.

5. Social media screening

Social media screening involves reviewing a candidate’s online presence on various social media platforms.

This background check aims to gain insights into the candidate’s character, behavior, and overall digital footprint.

It can help hiring professionals judge job applicants on factors like professionalism, judgment, and alignment with the company’s values.

Social media screening

3 legal considerations in background checks

1. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets guidelines for employers conducting background checks through third-party consumer reporting agencies.

It mandates that employers obtain written consent from candidates, provide clear disclosure of their intent to perform a background check, and follow proper procedures when adverse actions are taken based on the background check results.

2. Anti-discrimination laws

Employers must be aware of anti-discrimination laws such as the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines.

These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, etc.

Background checks should be conducted consistently and without bias, ensuring they do not disproportionately impact protected groups.

3. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance

The EEOC guides how companies should use background checks without violating anti-discrimination laws.

Recruiters should consider the nature of the offense, the time passed since the offense, and the relevance of the offense to the job requirements.

It’s important to apply background checks consistently and fairly, avoiding blanket exclusions or policies disproportionately affecting certain groups.

7 best practices for conducting background checks

1. Develop a comprehensive background check policy

Organizations should establish a clear and comprehensive background check policy that outlines the types of checks conducted, the roles that require checks, the procedures to be followed, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

This policy ensures consistency, transparency, and adherence to legal requirements throughout the hiring process and makes it a fair game for applicants.

2. Partner with reputable background screening providers

Choosing reliable and reputable background screening providers is crucial to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information obtained.

Conduct thorough research and select providers with a proven track record, industry certifications, and a data privacy and security commitment.

Partnering with such providers helps ensure the quality and integrity of the background checks performed.

3. Obtain candidate consent and provide transparency

Before initiating a background check, recruiters must obtain written consent from the candidate.

The consent form should clearly explain the background check’s purpose, scope, and nature and inform candidates about their rights regarding the process.

Transparency is key to maintaining trust and ensuring compliance with privacy regulations.

4. Adhere to fair and consistent screening practices

Recruiters should establish consistent screening practices to avoid bias or discrimination.

Apply the same background check standards to all candidates applying for similar roles, ensuring fairness and equal treatment.

Avoid making hiring decisions based solely on the results of a single background check but consider the overall qualifications, experience, and fit for the role.

5. Maintain confidentiality and data security

Background checks involve sensitive personal information, and organizations must prioritize data security and confidentiality.

Implement robust security measures to protect candidate data during the background check process and when storing the information.

Adhere to data protection regulations and securely dispose of background check reports of job candidates when they are no longer needed.

6. Stay updated on legal and regulatory changes

Laws and regulations related to background checks can evolve over time.

Recruiters must stay informed about any changes to ensure ongoing compliance.

Regularly review and update background check policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the latest legal requirements.

7. Train hiring managers and HR personnel

Properly train hiring managers and HR personnel involved in the background check process to ensure they understand the legal requirements, the importance of confidentiality, and the need for fair and consistent practices.

Training helps maintain compliance, reduce risks, and ensure that all stakeholders involved in the hiring process are aligned with best practices.

types of background checks

5 best background check tools to invest in

1. GoodHire

GoodHire offers a comprehensive background screening platform that helps recruiters conduct thorough and compliant background checks.

Background screening can be a time consuming process and this software helps by providing access to criminal record checks, employment background check and education verifications, and other screening services.

2. Checkr

Checkr is a widely used background check company that offers a streamlined and modern platform for conducting background screenings.

With Checkr, businesses can efficiently do background checks, driving record checks, confirm date of birth, employment history and education verifications.

3. Sterling

Sterling is a global provider of background screening services and offers a user-friendly software platform for conducting background checks.

The platform emphasizes compliance and provides reliable results to support informed hiring choices.

4. Accurate Background

Accurate Background is known for its advanced technology and robust background check solutions.

Their software enables companies to conduct comprehensive background checks, including criminal record searches, employment history and education verifications, driving record for motor vehicles and drug testing.

5. HireRight

HireRight is a popular background check software platform that offers a wide range of screening services.

They provide due diligence services, employment and education verifications, drug and healthcare reports, and other pre-employment screening services.

Armed with the knowledge to make informed decisions, you are now ready to build a stellar team based on trust, credibility, and compliance by conducting effective employee background checks.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is typically in a background check?

A typical background check includes verifying personal information, criminal records, employment history, education credentials, reference checks, credit history (if applicable), and social media screening.

2. What is the most common background check?

The most common background check involves criminal history checks, which help employers evaluate past criminal convictions or legal issues that may impact a candidate’s suitability for a role.

3. What is the difference between a background check and a criminal history?

While a criminal history check is a specific type of background check that focuses on an individual’s criminal records, a background check encompasses a broader scope.

A background check involves verifying various aspects of an individual’s personal, professional, and financial history, including employment history, education, references, credit history (if applicable), social media presence, and criminal records.

A background check aims to gather a comprehensive view of an individual’s background to assess their suitability for a specific role or responsibility.