10 Things to Know about Employee Background Checks

A background check is an essential part of the hiring process. A thorough background check allows your company to hire the right person for any position. In particular, background checks enable you to spot red flags ahead of time to avoid negative consequences when hiring.

There are three main types of pre-employment background checks. The first is an education and employment background check. This type of background check aims to verify a candidate’s credentials. For instance, it follows up on their degrees, licensing and references from previous employers.

The second type is a criminal background check to establish if the candidate has a criminal history. Some industries have specific criminal history requirements. For example, avoiding hiring convicted sex offenders to work with children.

The third is a credit check should your company need to look into a candidate’s credit history. For instance, disclosing bankruptcy history, foreclosures, or fraud are often a requirement in the financial services industry.

10 Things to Know about Employee Background Checks

What Are the Benefits of Running an Employee Background Check?

There are several key benefits, such as:

  • Overall workplace security.
  • Cutting down on wrong hires. Criminal background checks can reveal much about an individual. A conviction can shed light on a person’s character. Moreover, your clients may object to working with people who have criminal records.
  • Reducing potential liability. Depending on the industry, your company may be liable for negligence if you failed to vet an employee properly through a background check.
  • Compliance issues. Some industries have specific compliance issues. As a result, background checks can help your company remain compliant. For instance, security staff handling firearms may require employees to be free of violent criminal convictions.
  • Insurance liability. While conducting background checks for your industry may not be legally mandatory, your insurer may require (or discount your coverage) you to vet employees thoroughly. For instance, some professional liability policies require you to ensure you have taken all proper precautions. As such, hiring individuals without adequately vetting them may put your coverage in jeopardy on a claim.

Ten Things to Know about Running Background Checks Effectively

Running effective background checks requires you to follow specific guidelines. Here are ten things to know about running effective background checks:

  1. Get legal counsel

Before running background checks, consult with your company’s legal counsel and get legal opinions in writing.

  1. Follow up with your insurance company

The first point ties directly into the second one—you must ensure that your vetting practices align with your insurer’s guidelines to remain compliant with your insurance coverage. Keep in mind that denial from your insurer means your company may have significant liability in case of a claim.

  1. Have a policy in place

Conducting background checks should never be an ad-hoc process. Above all, your company must have a written policy outlining the appropriate procedure. It’s a good idea to have your legal counsel review it.

  1. Work with an experienced background check firm

Working with an experienced firm is a must for thorough background checks. A trusted company not only saves on costs but also ensures objectivity and thoroughness. Confirm your trusted partner is compliant with FCRA guidelines. Doing so ensures that you have vetted your employees according appropriately.

Here are five companies to consider based on your specific needs:

  • Background report. Offers fast services, completely online.
  • Accurate Now. Delivers automated background check services with small and medium businesses in mind.
  • GoodHire. Provides straightforward online services for pre-employment screening.
  • HireRight. Offers screening and pre-employment screening in more than 240 countries. Great for international firms.
  • IntelliCorp. Delivers a full range of background check and screening services. Provides access to an online learning center aimed at helping client companies remain compliant with current hiring practices.

On the whole, working with an experienced firm can help your company comply with today’s strict hiring practices and labor laws.

  1. Make an initial contingent job offer

Several municipalities, cities and states have so-called “ban-the-box” laws. These laws prohibit employers from asking candidates to disclose criminal records during a job interview or application process. Currently, California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington have such laws on the books. Moreover, several cities have also instituted similar rules.

To avoid liability, it’s a good rule of thumb to issue an initial contingent job offer and confirm with your legal counsel that your practices are in line with local laws. In other words, your company is willing to hire the candidate on the condition they meet the requirements pending a background check. The candidate must agree to the background check and must sign or check the appropriate box to accept the background check.

An experienced background check firm will assist with these steps.

a wall full of surveillance cameras watching people

  1. Run the background check

Once you have the required paperwork in place, you can give your trusted firm the green light to conduct the background check. Most firms have automated processes through their secure websites. Alternatively, your background check partner may choose to receive information on paper (name, address, social security number) to avoid possible data breaches. Running background checks typically take two to five days, depending on the number of screenings you need. However, some have taken weeks or longer when staffing or issues arise in local courts.

  1. Review and consider the findings

Once you have received the results, it’s crucial to go through them carefully. Mainly, the aim is to identify any possible red flags or dealbreakers. For example, poor credit history may signal poor judgment on the candidate’s part. A criminal conviction may constitute a dealbreaker, depending on local laws. When possible, second and even third opinions will help ensure that you’ve made the right call.

  1. Notify the candidate

If the results of the background check are such that you decide to withdraw the offer from the candidate, they must be notified in writing in most instances. There are very specific laws in many areas that include specific steps that your organization must follow including allowing the candidate to appeal the decision.

A reputable and experienced background check firm can help you navigate these requirements in conjunction with your legal counsel.

Letter blocks spelling out privacy

  1. Maintain consistency

Hiring managers often mistakenly screen some applicants and disregard background checks for others. As a result, this uneven approach may lead to inappropriate candidates slipping through the cracks or expose your organization to legal risks. Therefore, you must maintain consistency throughout the hiring process – if you screen one applicant, you screen them all.

Screening every applicant may slow down the onboarding particularly if there is a rush to fill open positions as soon as possible. Nevertheless, it’s important to remain compliant with standard business practices, legal requirements, and insurance policies.

  1. Keep your records up to date

Lastly, keeping your records up to date is a must. Documenting every step of the hiring process enables you to protect your company against liability or legal issues. An organized record of background checks ensures your company has done its due diligence and provides sufficient evidence in case of any legal action against your company.

How Can TalentZök Help You Manage Background Checks?

TalentZök is a trusted brand in the staffing industry. Our staffing experts know what it takes to get the right people in the right places. That knowledge includes a keen understanding of background checks. We strive to help our customers protect their companies from inappropriate employees. Moreover, we walk alongside our business partners every step of the way.

Please find out more today about how TalentZök can help your business find the right people while shielding it from insurance liability and legal action.



This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice, and should not be relied on as such. TalentZök is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.

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