How To Do A Background Check For Today’s Job Applicant

When you are in the final stages of the selection process and you have found your, seemingly, perfect candidate, there might be one step left before actually making the offer: a background check. With an employee background check, you can verify the candidate´s history and credentials they claim to have, so it´s actually a tool to help you screen the right employees.

However, if you want to include this tool in your selection process, you need to do it right otherwise it might become a very costly and inefficient practice. Also, you need to be aware what criteria of the background check you´re actually able to use because if you discriminate candidates for reasons you´re legally not allowed to use, it might become a very tricky business.


Hence, here are some basic guidelines for how to do a background for today´s job applicant:

  • Inform yourself and get legal advice

In all states or countries, there are different laws and regulations on what information you are allowed to gather and to use about your candidates. Therefore, make sure you inform yourself and get yourself some legal advice to make sure your background checks do not cause any legal issues for you as an employer.

  • Have a consistent policy in place

Based on what you know now from a legal point of view, make sure you have a consistent policy in place and apply that policy from beginning to end when you do background checks.

  • Inform the candidate and give them the chance to clear up

Even though usually done very thoroughly, the information obtained in a background check can sometimes be slightly incorrect. Therefore, always give the candidate a chance to explain any possible incorrect information because it might save you from discarding a great candidate that would have been rejected based on incorrect information.

  • Don´t distinguish between candidates

If you decide to do background checks, do them for all candidates. Don´t distinguish between candidates and decide whether you will use a background check or not on a candidate-by-candidate basis. Apply the same process to every applicant you are interviewing to not only make your process error-proof but to also avoid possible legal issues.

  • Take all steps seriously

Make sure you take all steps of the process serious, often the most important information will come up during some of the most standard steps of the process. Therefore, make sure your hiring managers take every single step seriously.


But, apart from defining the process, what do you actually need to include in your background check? Here you can make a distinction between a basic background check and additional background checks.

Let´s first see what is usually included in a background check:

  • Criminal records check: this shows if the applicant has committed any criminal activities in their past.
  • Sexual offender registry check: although not included in all background checks, this check is usually part of the standard background check to see if the candidate is in the sexual offender registry.
  • Social security validation: this is to ensure the applicant´s social security number is legitimate and will find all history data related to that social security number.
  • Address history check: this is to find out where the candidate has lived previously and it will make it easier to verify other checks.

Apart from these basic elements of the background check, there are some additional screening options that you can conduct. Examples of these would be checking driving records, study transcripts, credit reports, professional licenses records, or state licensing records. These can definitely provide you with more in-depth knowledge about the candidate, however, you will have to decide which ones are most relevant to your business.


What other tips do you have for doing a background check for your applicants?

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