How to Conduct Employee Background Checks: The Complete  Guide

Before I tear down the process on how to conduct employee background checks, let’s answer some of the “hard” questions on employee screening. Because let’s face it; no one wants to have to deal with the costs of hiring the wrong person for any job.

What are employee background checks?

An employee background check is the process of confirming and verifying that the information provided by a job applicant in his or her resume is indeed true. It’s important for the company to confirm the information provided by conducting employee background checks on all applicants to avoid hiring the wrong person.

So to ensure that you hire only the right people you need to look out for the following: 

Education and academic credentials

When looking to bring in more extra hands into your business, you set various educational qualifications and requirements on which to base your hiring decision. But as an employer how can you be sure that candidates’ certificates are genuine?

The first place to check is the university from where the degree is from to verify the candidate actually graduated from there and the period outlined in the certificate is valid. The authenticity of the qualifications must be confirmed.

Verification of prior employment position

When applying for a job, prior employment records are always listed as part of your employment experience. These actually make ones resume strong and increase the chances of being hired. But there might be the need for verification from the potential employer on your experience listed. A phone call to your former Human Resource manager will confirm your details as listed in the Curriculum Vitae. In some cases, there are HR managers who volunteer more information on an individual which will be of help in the hiring process while other companies will only verify and leave it at that.

Discussion with referees

It is advised for an individual seeking employment to list a number of referees in their Curriculum Vitae. These are usually individuals who have worked, socialized and trained with you when it comes to your academic, social and employment phases in life. These people when contacted will have an influence in your chances of getting the position in question. Running a background check involves seeking the listed people out and asking about their opinions of an individual.

Criminal background checks

A company should be very careful on whom they recruit, an individual with a conviction record will be frowned upon by the hiring team. This record will not be allowed by the company hence the need to confirm that the people being considered for a position do not have a past criminal record.

Credit checks

There are some sensitive professions like accounting and finance that must have strict background checks. These professions involve the handling of money and the individuals tasked should have high credibility and honesty qualities. Credit checks on such individuals cannot be emphasized enough. Individuals with records of misappropriations and mishandling of money should not be allowed to handle such dockets.

Internet search

A simple Internet search in Google can confirm an individual claim on their applications. Though it does not form part of the official background check, this can be done unofficially by the hiring manager before the official checks commerce.

How to perform a proper background check.

Carrying out background checks is a sensitive process that requires the parties concerned to be well equipped and have a system that works to make the verification and process easy and fruitful. The company carrying out these checks should be aware that any slight mistake or complexity might bring problems in the company. By discriminating some candidates on basis of location, gender a company can attract a legal action. A company should note the following in the entire process:

Have a consistent policy and working system

The HR department should have a well-documented chart with steps and tasks at every stage in the verification process. Casual and disorganized process in the chart can attract legal issues if some steps are applied discriminatingly on candidates or ignored. If candidates of specific backgrounds are targeted with specified processes then this will be favoritism and cause locking up of able and competent candidates. In the worst case, these candidates can sue the company.

Engage legal services on background checks information

When carrying out background checks a company can discover sensitive information on individuals in question. What should a company do with such information? Seek legal advice on how to go about with the information discovered from the candidates of the positions been filled. The company will be advised on how the information unearthed can be used when it comes to hiring the candidates to avoid attracting a lawsuit.

Have room for improvement and clarifications

The system in place should have a chance for improvements on the mistakes that the background checks can bring up. There should be room for clarification and rectifying the information collected if deemed untrue. The companies should give a chance to the candidates to explain incorrect information so that they do not lose out a great, competent candidate because of untrue information discovered.

Differentiate reference checks and investigative consumer reports

There have been cases of reference checks being carried out by contacting former employers on dates and positions in the company’s named. Such reports are easy to carry out while Investigative consumer reports are more strict and a copy of the report should be presented outlining the findings to the candidate during rejection.

No assumptions but facts

The hiring managers should never assume any part of background checks. The processes assumed to be routine might withhold critically important information and should be taken seriously and have facts obtained. Every information should be obtained and not assumed because looks can be deceiving.

Refrain from asking on character information from previous employees

The hiring team should not ask on their candidate’s characters when confirming on their former employment records. Questioning of character falls under investigation and carrying this process without giving an advance notice to the candidate falls under breaking of the federal law. Breaking the law will attract a legal suit to the company.

Use background checks that are FCRA compliant

The processes of background checks are clearly stated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act ( FCRA). This document gives a clear summary of how the information collected should be used and how the candidate in question should be treated. There are a few exceptions when it comes to some states in regards to some components of background checks like credit and criminal records. The hiring department should be advised accordingly in these areas so that they do not get themselves on the wrong side of the law.


Any company seeking to fill any vacancies should carry out employee background checks to ensure that only hire honest and competent people in the available positions. Due diligence should be carried out by the hiring team to ensure that the set laws and rules are followed and none of the rights of the candidates is violated.

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