How To Read A Background Check Report - A Guide For Employers

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Understanding how to read a background check report is crucial for employers seeking to make informed hiring decisions. In this guide, we’ll discuss the essential elements of a background check report, decode red flags, explain the adjudication process, and discuss best practices for interpreting the screening report. 

What Does a Background Check Look Like?

A pre-employment background check is a physical or digital document containing general and specific information about the applicant. The general information enclosed includes the candidate's government name, address, social security number, and date of birth. As these details serve as the foundation for cross-referencing other information, many employers choose to conduct a separate identity verification, particularly if they are hiring globally.

The specific components can vary depending on your requirements as the employer, the nature of the job, the specific role, and, of course, the type of background check conducted or requested.  Below are some of the details you’ll receive in a background check report including the significant findings to note:


Criminal Background Check

If you conduct a criminal history check, expect to find details about the candidate's criminal history, including arrests, convictions, and any pending charges. 

Look for convictions relevant to the job and consider the recency of offences. Multiple or severe criminal infractions may raise concerns about the candidate's suitability for certain roles. 

Credit Report

Including a credit report in your screening reveals an individual's financial history, including credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment history. These details reflect on the candidate’s financial responsibility, which comes particularly important for roles that involve handling finances or sensitive information.

Red flags in credit reports may include bankruptcies, significant debts, or a history of late payments. 

Employment History

The section for employment history outlines the candidate's work experiences, including past positions, responsibilities, and reasons for leaving. Through this you can verify the consistency of information provided on the resume and assess any gaps or discrepancies.

Inconsistencies in employment history, unexplained gaps, or frequent job changes may be red flags. Evaluate the candidate's career progression and stability.


Education Verification

Education verification confirms the candidate's academic credentials, such as degrees obtained, dates of enrolment and graduation, and recognitions. 

Confirm the authenticity of academic credentials. Red flags may include discrepancies in the reported degree or the absence of a degree from the claimed institution.

If you include other types of background checks, you need to look for details that may point to the possibility of future problems. For social media checks, inappropriate or offensive content, discriminatory language, or unprofessional behaviour that could reflect poorly on the candidate's suitability for the job should be looked into closely. To verify education and employment information, you may also want to conduct reference checks

Note that knowing these red flags is not enough. How to read a background check report requires a strong adjudication process. 

How To Read a Background Check: The Adjudication Process

Adjudication in pre-employment background screening refers to the process of evaluating the information gathered during the background check against the hiring criteria set by the company. This process helps employers make informed decisions about a candidate's suitability for a particular job. 

For example, if a criminal background check reveals a minor offence that is unrelated to the responsibilities of the job, the adjudication process may determine that it does not significantly impact the candidate's fitness for the position. On the other hand, a more serious offence or a recent conviction directly related to the job requirements may lead to adverse action. 

Similarly, if the hiring policy indicates that a candidate who has a debt of more than 15% their annual salary cannot be hired, then the adjudication process may result in adverse action even though the candidate in question is highly experienced. 

Ultimately, adjudication ensures a fair and thorough analysis of the background check results, allowing employers to make informed decisions that align with the requirements of the position and applicable laws.

To learn more about adjudication, head over to The Employer's Guide To Background Check Adjudication


Best Practices in Reading Background Check Reports - Tips for Employers

How to read a background check report requires a meticulous examination of various components. The following best practices help employers ensure that they can make strong hiring decisions. 

Establish your hiring criteria

To help in your adjudication process, make sure that you have detailed hiring criteria for each role. This way, you can remain objective and easily weigh the results of the background screening against the hiring criteria and company policies. 

Ensure compliance with the law

Familiarise yourself with relevant employment laws and regulations to ensure that your background check process remains compliant. Consult your legal team about laws against discrimination, data privacy, and criminal history verification (ie. ban the box)

Communicate with the candidates

From start to finish, ensure transparent communication. Don’t forget to get the candidate’s written consent to conduct background checks. If red flags are identified, communicate with the candidate to allow them an opportunity to provide context or clarification.

A Note on Adverse Action Notice

Depending on where you operate your business, you may be legally required to take an Adverse Action Notice should you deny employment based on the information on the background check. These steps typically include providing a pre-adverse action notice that includes a copy of the consumer report, a summary of the applicant's rights under the law, and an opportunity for the candidate to dispute or correct any inaccuracies. 


Partner with experts

Easily reading a background check report and streamlining the adjudication process can be accomplished if you partner with an expert background screening platform, such as Veremark. This is because they have the capacity to conduct multiple checks comprehensively and deliver reports that are easy-to-read. 

Veremark Makes Reading a Background Check Report Easy

With Veremark, you only need to provide candidate details, order the checks you need, and customise your requirements. We’ll then conduct the checks based on your instructions and deliver an easy-to-understand report in a shareable format. Our system is also automated and seamlessly integrates into your current workflow. This means you can combine necessary information to easily proceed with your adjudication process.

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What common components or elements can employers see when they receive a background check report on their potential employee?

A background check report typically includes information on a potential employee's criminal history, employment verification, credit history, education verification, and sometimes, reference checks.

What is the Adjudication Process in Pre-Employment Background Screening?

The adjudication process in pre-employment background screening refers to the evaluation and decision-making phase where the gathered information about a candidate is analysed against the hiring criteria and company policy to determine their suitability for a particular position.

What are the advantages of partnering with a background screening platform to your company's adjudication process?

Partnering with a background screening platform, like Veremark, can streamline and enhance your company's adjudication process by providing efficient access to comprehensive and accurate information, reducing the risk of hiring errors and promoting a more informed decision-making process.


What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

Transform your hiring process

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In-house or outsourced background screening: which one is best for your company?

How to make the right background screening decision for your organization

As the importance of background screening becomes increasingly more evident, a pressing question arises: should this process be conducted in-house, or should it be outsourced to a third-party service provider?

While it differs from business to business, the end decision has significant implications for your company's operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness and risk management.

Download this guide to discover:

The advantages of both in-house and outsourced screening

The disadvantages of in-house and outsourced screening

The role of background screening in an HR strategy

Considering the legal and ethical implications

How to leverage technology for more efficient screening processes

Download this guide today to help you decide which approach best aligns with your company's strategic objectives, operational needs and risk management practices.

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