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All About Background Checks

All about background checks

Background checks are one of the most crucial steps of the hiring process. Organisations aspire to hire ethical people but stumble for the lack of a trusted background screening system and service. The inadequate knowledge on the relevance of background checks and inaccessibility to a functional system are the reasons why organisations fail to draw the benefits of this significant recruitment activity. 

This article aims to provide comprehensive information on background checks. It endeavours to answer the most frequently asked questions related to this subject matter and recommend effective digitised solutions to background screening. 

Background Checks - Definition and Advantages

The rapid advancement in technology and globalisation leads to integrated evolution and expansion of the workforce. While it gives opportunities to organisations to hire from an infinite talent pool, it also exposes them to the risk of hiring candidates with fake credentials. Thus arises the need to have background checks of the incoming employees.

Definition

Doing a background check means checking the background of the potential employee. Also referred to as pre-employment screening or background screening, it is an extensive process of investigating in detail the authenticity of the credentials of the new hires before they become a part of the organisation. It facilitates the hiring managers to make a safe and rational hiring decision.

Essential Components of Background Checks

Background checks on employees validate the following elements to assess their personality, character, and behaviour-

  • Education or Academic Accreditations
  • Employment History
  • Civil Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Credit Rating
  • Social Security Details 
  • References

The scope and relevance of the background checks primarily depends on the following factors-

  • type of industry
  • needs of the organisation
  • nature of the job for which the candidate is getting hired
  • the seniority of the hire

Advantages of Background Checks

Background screening draws its benefits from the purposes it serves to the organisations. The primary objective is to assess the eligibility and reliability of the potential hire for the open job position. It is a vigilant technique of probing and confirming the claims made by the candidates at the time of recruitment (as mentioned in their resumes and communicated during the interviews). The most likely areas to exaggerate are skills, past salary, designation, job responsibilities, employment tenure, educational qualifications, etc. Discrepancies in information provided by the candidate being considered for hiring should caution the recruiters. 

Thus, background checks hedge the potential risk of employing dishonest candidates who give spurious information during the hiring process. It mitigates the losses an organisation may suffer for hiring an ineligible and incredible candidate. On the grounds of immense benefits that it accrues, organisations are now resorting to background checks of their existing employees to verify their integrity.

A few of the ancillary advantages of background checks are-

  • It lessens the possibility of making wrong hiring decisions, thus saving the recurrent costs, time, and resources for hiring for the same job position.
  • Screening the employee’s profile ensures workplace safety and integrity. It assures employers that a person with impeccable civil and criminal records gets selected and can work harmoniously with managers, co-employees, vendors, and customers. It removes the odds of employee conflicts and improves coordination in the organisation.
  • Background checks help secure an organisation's reputation. It safeguards the organisation's assets and confidential and sensitive information that may get in the hands of fraudulent employees.

Types of Background Checks

  • Reference Check

It allows employers to contact the previous managers, colleagues, mentors, and professors to gain more information about the candidate. The results of the checks give insights into their strengths and weaknesses, professional achievements, moral character, working style, and other behavioural traits. The information facilitates hiring managers in making prudent and informed decisions in the selection process.

  • Education Check

This check confirms the accuracy and legitimacy of the educational certifications and qualifications of the candidate. It examines the validity of all the degrees and diplomas from the academic institutions, as disclosed in the resume. It further verifies the enrollment dates and subject-wise grades alongside the academic achievements as claimed by the candidate. 

  • Employment History Check

This check is parallel to the reference check that confirms the entire work history of the potential recruits. It encompasses contacting the previous employers (or the HR personnel) to get significant employment details, such as designation with the company, work profile, tenure, salary, professional conduct, the reason for leaving, and other job-specific information. This check unveils the unexplained gaps and disparities in employment history and raises red flags. By analysing their past employment records, hiring managers get pointers on job stability, morality, and sincerity to an employer.

  • Professional Certification and Licensing Check

It authenticates the validity of professional certificates and licenses obtained by the candidates who may be accountants, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, and wealth or investment managers. 

  • Criminal Background Check

It is the most widely-used, sensitive, and complex check of all. It encompasses investigating the illicit or unlawful activities done by the prospective employee in the past, such as theft, fraud, and violence. The intent of conducting this check is to avoid hiring someone who could pose a threat to the workplace as they may have access to confidential information and proximity to vulnerable people, like children or aged persons. 

A specialised team approaches law enforcement agencies (district and state courts) to extract criminal records from their database and compile search results from diverse sources - state, national, and even international. They search for details relating to any criminal charges levied against the candidate, filing dates, the court verdict, past or present lawsuits under scrutiny, and any other legal proceedings, felonies, or demeanours. Depending on the state and federal laws, criminal background checks may or may not reflect the arrests for the convicted cases, dismissed cases, acquitted cases, and sealed criminal records.

  • Credit Check

This check is mainly for the candidates hired for roles that require managing an organisation's finances, making budgets, handling investments, and performing other finance-related activities. It provides an overview of the debt-handling and finance-management capabilities of the candidates. It also ascertains their credit ratings (scores) from financial institutions or financial regulatory bodies. Credit check probes if the candidate has ever been declared bankrupt or insolvent or has any pending financial litigations in their names. Credit checks hedge the risk of fraud and embezzlement of funds.

  • Drug Testing Check

Some industries, such as aviation, must get the drug testing done for their employees to ensure that they are or were not in the habit of consuming any banned substances, such as illegal drugs or narcotics. This check determines the presence of these substances in a candidate’s body. It cautions employers of hiring habitual consumers and averts the use of illicit drugs at the workplace.

  • Driving Check

This check comes into the picture when an applicant gets hired for a role that requires driving a vehicle. It entails authenticating the details given on driving license, past driving records, the occurrence of accidents (if any), issuance of traffic tickets, and other traffic violation penalties.

How do Background Checks Work?

Background checks address the probabilities of selecting a bad hire. It reduces the risks by investigating the sanity of the facts mentioned in the resume. It starts with diving deeply into a candidate’s profile and checking their credit history, education qualifications, employment records, criminal background details available in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. The common approaches include - accessing public databases, personally contacting the information providers, and visiting the sources, such as courts, educational or financial institutions.  

Employers by and large mention in the recruitment policies that the selection of candidates is subject to background checks. They need to notify the candidates about the screening process and procure written consent to conduct a background check of their profiles. Though not bound to share the screening reports with the candidates, they need to comply with their request to review the findings when it is not in their favour. 

They may set up an in-house pre-employment screening team that conducts background checks for potential recruits. As an alternative, they may hire the services of external third-party background screening service providers to validate the profiles of prospective employees. 

In today's technologically-advanced world, the background check for employment is an online procedure performed using digitised tools. The employment market is teeming with HR solution providers that offer innovative background screening services to employers. They are equipped with competent staff and physical resources to design and execute a customised background check online search package in line with the employer's requirements. 

The duration and cost of background screening depend on the services (types of checks) employers choose and the ease of accessing the information. The check results predicate on the viewpoint of the source or information provider. For example, for employment history checks, the results are entirely in the hands of the previous employer (immediate manager or HR staff). Though no law restricts them from giving their free opinion, most employers choose to provide information on elementary matters (job title, responsibilities, tenure, salary, etc.). They refrain from commenting on subjective topics (character, work ethics, personality, etc.) due to the fear of facing defamation lawsuits.

Misconceptions Regarding Background Checks

  1. Background checks are the same for all organisations.

Organisations across industries and sectors have distinct verification requirements about the employee profiles and thus scout for specific background information about them. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot work for them. Consequently, a prescribed screening process cannot have uniform applicability across all organisations. The hiring teams spell out the requisite background checks to the screening companies that best serve their requirements. Thus, background checks can never be the same for all organisations.

  1. Only big organisations require background screening.

It is far from the truth. Organisations, irrespective of their size and operations scale, must invest in background screening processes. Small companies have more to lose due to a bad hire. Investing a little in background checks will save their money, time, and resources to hire a new employee due to a wrong hiring decision.

  1. Background checks are all about checking criminal records.

A layman perceives background checks as checks of criminal records. But that is not the case. It covers validating the essential candidate credentials such as their education, work experience, professional background, and any specific check deemed necessary by the organisations. Investigating criminal records is just one of the vital background checks.

  1. It doesn’t matter which background screening company you choose - they are all the same!

The functionalities, approaches, and services of background screening companies vary significantly. Each has a different set of expertise and accessibility to extract sensitive and confidential information about individuals. It is advisable to choose the one committed to delivering accurate, transparent, trusted, and reliable results.

  1. All employee-related information is available online.

It is not prudent to rely solely on online platforms to gain information about candidates. Search engine results (such as Google) and social media profiles do not provide complete information. It may not reflect an accurate and fair picture of the character and conduct of a person.

Conclusion

In today’s highly competitive and globalised employment environment, organisations face a tough time hiring the right people. The rising employment fraud and unethical employee conduct cases point to the significance of doing background checks. It is one of the critical recruitment processes to enhance the quality of potential hires in organisations. Hiring the services of an external service provider ensures that the best and the most righteous person gets selected for the job. 

Veremark is pioneering a completely online, secure, and economical global background screening solution. We offer fully automated, secured, and reliable software to gather and validate material facts about the potential and existing employees.  We utilise the new-age cloud, API, and blockchain technologies to perform featured and customised background checks online for effective hiring.

Contact us now to get the best background screening solutions and enhance the certainty of recruiting virtuous employees in your organisation.

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