What is a background check?
A background check is an evaluation method that employers use to determine the validity of the information a job candidate provides them in their application. It also helps determine any potential red flags with a candidate before further consideration for a job position.
Why do employers conduct background checks?
Employers conduct background checks to ensure that they choose the best candidates to contribute to their business. They also need to make sure that to protect their business from individuals who have a tendency to commit fraudulent or reckless behavior in the workplace.
Information a background check shows
Social security verification
By verifying the validity of a candidate’s social security number, you determine if they are being truthful about their identity and whether they have the right to work in the country. You may access social security records through the Department of Homeland Security or the Social Security Administration.
Employers may need to research evidence of a criminal record to make sure the candidates have not previously participated in fraudulent activities or currently have warrants out for their arrest.
Drug testing may be a necessary component of a background check to prevent a lack of productivity in the workplace and increased employee turnover rates.
A credit check allows you to verify trivial information about a candidate, such as their name, address and contact details. Credit checks may also allow you to determine how responsible they are with money. This is important especially if they apply for a position in finance or a role that requires money-handling.
Background checks also consist of verifying one’s employment history. Something as simple as an internet search can confirm or deny the validity of a company and a candidate’s qualifications.
Motor vehicle record
If a candidate will be expected to drive a vehicle as a part of their job, it may be necessary to review motor vehicle records to check for bad driving habits, speeding tickets or DUIs.
How to conduct a background check
Some businesses choose to outsource background checks to a professional service, but they can also conduct one themselves. Here is a guided list of steps to help you conduct a background check for a job candidate according to patriotsoftware.com:
1. Tell the candidate you will be conducting a background check
To remain in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you need to make sure to send an email to each candidate outlining the areas you will be checking for. Also provide an attached document for them to sign electronically that confirms their consent to proceed with the background check.
2. Review state laws about background check regulations
Before you begin conducting a background check, be sure to check your state’s specific laws and regulations regarding what information employees can check for, and what information constitutes dismissal for a candidate within your state. You usually find this information on your state’s department of public safety website.
3. Contact candidate references
Make sure to ask candidates for two to three references to verify their qualifications for the job at hand. Email each reference to set up a phone call to discuss the candidate further. Prepare a list of questions to ask to confirm or deny their skill sets and work ethic. You may even decide to meet their references in person or via video chat to confirm their identity.
4. Use a background check website to review records
You may hire a professional background checking service to find evidence of criminal backgrounds and other civil records, but you can also do the research yourself by enlisting the help on an online background check website. You may need to pay a fee to access public records.
5. Ask the candidate to take a drug test
If the job you offer requires employees to drive a commercial vehicle, care for children or work in a potentially dangerous environment, a drug test may be necessary to determine the safety of your other employees and customers. Send candidates to a doctor’s office for a drug test or have a certified professional collect a sample during appointments in the office.
6. Review the results to determine a candidate’s validity
After you gain access to background check documents, review them to determine if your candidate is worthy to work at your company. If you don’t feel comfortable based on the information you uncovered, proceed with other candidates who may better represent your company.
Frequently asked questions about background checks
How long does it take to get a pre-employment background check?
According to BARADA Associates, the amount of time it takes to receive the results of a pre-employment background check depends on how many items you want to include, like a credit check and criminal background check. For this reason, it could take between 48 hours and five days to receive results.
What causes a red flag on a background check?
Here are some examples of potential red flags according to everifile.com:
- Consistent gaps in employment could point to an inability to keep a job
- Previous criminal history that a candidate didn’t tell you about directly
- Lack of evidence that they attended a college or university despite listing it on their resume
- Discrepancies in previous employment history
What is considered a clean background check?
A clean background check typically means that you don’t find any significant felonies, convictions or misdemeanors. Further, if there is previous criminal activity that the candidate already confirmed and that activity does not relate to the industry/title in question, then it can be considered a clean background check.
How do you run a background check on an employee?
Run a background check on an employee by first notifying them that you will be conducting a background check. From there, you may decide to use a professional service or do your own research.