Insight /

What are Background Checks?

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook

Staying compliant and performing a background check that is both legal and accurate becomes a challenge for HR managers.

The simplest and least time-consuming solution for employers is to have a high-quality specialized vendor conduct a background check. Any organization regardless of size and complexity needs to reduce risk and maintain secure working environments.

Background checks produce a lot of valuable information when conducted appropriately so employers can make informed hiring decisions.  

What is Background Screening of Employees?

Background screenings allow the employer to verify the information and background of a potential hire pre-employment. They also have the option to conduct continental screenings of the employees.

The type of industry and job opening influence what searches employers include in the background checks.  

Depending on the level of risk by the position being filled and the type of business, as well as the availability of budget resources, employers can narrow down which aspects of an employee’s background need to be verified.

Some industries have checks dictated by various laws, for example, health care and transportation industries have very stringent screening and testing requirements.  

It is important to note that there is no centralized database that has all the information on a person.

For example, criminal records can only be accessed at courts, driving records are housed at the DMV, and education records are at educational institutions. Since each screening is accessed directly from the source, it would be incredibly time-consuming and wasteful to have HR perform these checks for every potential candidate.  

What is Included in a Background Check?

Many providers of background checks will be able to help determine what types of checks need to be performed for a specific organization based on the size, needs, and budget.  

The basic searches most performed are: 

  • County Criminal Records Check. 
  • Motor Vehicle Check. 
  • Employment Verification. 
  • Personal and Professional References Checks. 
  • Education Verification.
  • Social Security Number address traces. 

It is important to remember that any employee, regardless of the position within the company can be a liability and needs to be screened 

The depth of the background screening should be gauged according to the position’s risk in the company. Extensive and thorough checks would need to be conducted for an executive position, while a part-time position may only need a basic background screening.

The type of industry is also a deciding factor.

For example, anyone who works with children, anyone who has fiduciary responsibility in the job, and workers in finance or banking will all need to undergo extensive background screening.

A more robust background search usually includes: 

  • License Verification. 
  • Sex Offender Registry List. 
  • Credit Check. 
  • International Searches. 
  • Workers’ Compensation History. 
  • Social Media Screening. 

Background Check Companies

Browse and compare 1000’s of vetted vendors. 

Why is Background Screening Important?

According to the HR’s NABS report, the top reasons to conduct a background search are: 

  • To protect employees, customers, etc. 
  • Improve the quality of hires. 
  • Mandated by laws and regulations. 
  • Protect company reputation. 
  • Prevent or reduce theft, embezzlement, or any other criminal activity. 

Employers should work with a reputable company that can maneuver the legal and ethical landscape while at the same time being able to ascertain information on a potential hire.

Employers need to look out for vendors which offer: 

  • Customizable packages. 
  • Quick and accurate background screening. 
  • Low “unable-to-verify” rate. 
  • Compliant and legal policies and procedures. 
  • Thorough and accurate information. 

The consequences of not performing can be costly and cause the company a lot of damage.

Some statistics and studies give concrete evidence of why background checks matter:   

  • Employee theft or embezzlement is why nearly a third of businesses fail. 
  • The average cost to an organization of a “bad hire” can be upwards of $50,000. 
  • Fraud causes organizations to lose 5% of their annual revenue. 
  • It is estimated that there are 400 “diploma mills” in the U.S. 
  • $121 billion annual losses are due to workplace violence assaults. 
  • Drug abuse and addiction cost companies $81 billion every year. 
  • Workplace violence lawsuits cost American companies an average of $500,000 for out-of-court settlements. 

Examples of Background Check Services

  • Driving records. 
  • Credit checks. 
  • Database searches. 
  • Criminal records. 
  • Court records. 
  • International screening. 
  • Form I-9. 
  • Drug testing. 
  • Employment verification. 
  • Education verification. 
  • Identity verification. 
  • E-verify. 
  • Occupational medical services. 
  • Social media screening. 

Ultimately, background checks are a way to protect your business and avoid costly “bad hires” which not only cause financial damage, but damage to your company’s image and assets within it.

It is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Not only will it save time and money, but it will streamline the hiring process and give protection to your work environment and culture.  

Written by Shortlister Editorial Team
Written by Shortlister Editorial Team

Become a Shortlister Insider!

Get the latest news and insights on HR technology, employee benefits, and upcoming trends in the wellness world!