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Steps to a Background Check


What Are the Parts to a Background Check?


Why Perform Background Checks?

Background checks on prospective employees serve many purposes. First and foremost, they verify the skills and experience necessary to perform the tasks detailed within the job description. But they also serve to protect you and your company by verifying that other critical information presented by the applicant is truthful and accurate.

Background checks do more than validate an applicant’s past employment history. They check for prior criminal records and behavior, look at education, credit records, motor vehicle records and even perform reference checks. Depending on the position and expectations, these searches can lead to red flags to be discussed prior to the final hiring decision.

Let’s look at these areas in a little more detail:

Criminal Background

  • Hiring someone with a criminal record can carry a stigma – both real and perceived. Employers need to consider many things when making this choice. That includes the types of offenses, how they may relate to the duties of the position and who the hire may interact with in the company. Time removed from incarceration is another important factor of consideration. While criminal checks are important, hiring trends are moving away from asking applicants to divulge past discretions on applications. If your company still carries the “former conviction” check box on applications, it is quickly becoming a best practice to remove it.

Education Verification

  • Is the applicant being truthful about schools and accredited institutions- and do they meet the standards you are seeking in an employee? One thing to be on the lookout for is fake diplomas, generated by “diploma mills”. Diploma mills are essentially what the name suggests: an entity that proclaims itself to be an educational institution while providing fee-based academic degrees and diplomas. Some applicants may consider these diplomas as a legitimate level of schooling. However, in the end, diploma mills merely provide an easy route for those who seek a career path without putting in the leg work. Remember, a well-educated and trained candidate adapts quicker to the task at hand, particularly in more complex fields that require true higher-learning classroom work

Credit Records

  • Much like criminal background checks, information uncovered in a credit check can often raise questions about the suitability of the applicant to the task at hand. Will they handle money? Will they budget for their area or be in charge of procurement? If they have not proven themselves able to do this in their past personal or professional lives, they can prove to be a huge risk to your company.

Motor Vehicle Records

  • Driving records can be indicative of bad behavior and bring a tremendous risk to your company in terms of safety and financial liability, making them an important area to explore. Driving infractions like DUI’s or DWI’s, drag racing, driving with a suspended license and more can be uncovered during a Motor Vehicle Record check. These findings should only be used in a hiring decision if they negatively relate to the applicant ability to perform the duties listed in the job description.


Applicant Protection in Background Screening

Something hugely important in this whole equation is the fact that background checks also protect applicants. Legally, they must be provided information on the process used for the background check, as well as a chance for rebuttal on any details that might sway employment choices.


Here’s a refresher on some of key points to conduct background checks legally and fairly:

  • Apply the same standards to everyone, regardless of race, national origin, color, sex, religion, etc.
  • The EEOC stresses special care when making employment decisions on background problems that may be more common among people of a certain race, national origin, sex or religion.
  • Be prepared to make exceptions for problems revealed during a background check that were caused by a disability.
  • Before you make adverse employment choices, you must give the applicant a copy of the report you relied on to make your decision, as well as a copy of "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act." This is part of a federally mandated program called Adverse Action. This will be provided to you by the company that sold you the report, like Risk Assessment Group.
  • After adverse action has been taken, the applicant must then be informed that he or she was rejected because of information in the report and that they have a right to dispute the accuracy of the report as part of step two of the Adverse Action process. Provide the contact information of your background screening agency and let the applicant know that the company conducting the report didn't make the hiring decision and can't give specific reasons for it.

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