What Do Companies Look for in Background Checks?

Business owners and HR professionals know that background checks are an essential part of the hiring process. What advantages do they offer employers, and what do companies look for when performing background checks?

There are many good reasons to perform background checks when screening candidates, including helping the company make good hiring decisions, protecting the business from expensive mistakes, and improving employee morale. These routine investigations help companies make informed decisions about new hires, and they also help protect the business from unwanted surprises, which could result in expensive and embarrassing litigation that no business can afford. Employee morale in the company is negatively affected when an unqualified person is hired and then has to be removed. Such a ripple effect just isn’t worth it, especially when so much information is available today.

Background checks save a business money in the long run too. The upfront cost of the screening is a small price to pay compared to the cost of making a mistake in hiring, especially for high-level positions. Those costs, in both human and real capital, include performing a search and then training twice for the same position, the additional workload placed on current employees, and the lost revenue and customer satisfaction that results while the position is open.

There are varying levels of background checks available to companies. Most of us think first about a criminal background check, but there are also sex offender registry checks, credit history checks, driving record checks, civil history checks, employment history verification checks, educational verification checks, and professional license checks. Positions that involve handling large sums of money would require a different set of checks than an aide in a daycare center, for example. 

Employers also need to know the state laws and regulations that oversee how and when such investigations can be done. Can you do a criminal background check on all potential new hires, or does there have to be a conditional job offer first? And what does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) say about a candidate’s social media posts being considered in hiring?

Remember that in all cases, employers must get express, written permission from a candidate to do a background check; it cannot simply be a line on an application stating that a check will be performed. That consent has to be given every time a background check is done in the future for that employee, too.

Having said all of this, what is an HR professional looking for when the results of the background checks show up on their desk? First, there is verification of information provided by the candidate, such as:

  • Educational history
  • Work history
  • Criminal background
  • Professional licenses and certifications
  • References 
  • US work status

Employers may not even consider a candidate if it is found that some—or all—of this information is inaccurate on the application. The issue becomes one of integrity and honesty, traits that are essential in the workplace. In any case, there is more information to make a decision.

Beyond those basics and depending on the specific job duties, other checks might include:

  • Credit check
  • Driver’s license and driving record
  • Drug and alcohol tests

A candidate may enhance their application or resume in order to stand out among the many other applicants, but it is an employer’s responsibility to know as much as possible about the people they hire to promote their brand and their products. When conducting background checks, companies look to verify information about the candidate and protect themselves and their employees.

We are listening.

Submitted Complaints

No complaints submitted yet. Can you tell us about your experience with this number? Sharing your story will help other consumers.