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How to do an Employment Background Check

Even if you believe you have the employee of your dreams sitting in front of you, it’s not time to give them an offer yet. You still have work to do. Before signing on the dotted line, the next step in the hiring process is performing an employment background check. In doing so, you’ll confirm a variety of things about your new employee. For example, the screening will review their public and criminal records, and determine if they’re on a sex offender registry.



Why Should Employment Background Checks Occur?

These screenings help your company weed out which candidates are exceptional and those that are not optimal. Here are some valid reasons you should be conducting them:

  • Damage to your business: your business may suffer legal consequences if criminal activities occur.
  • Insurance underwriting: if you’re operating a business where drivers need a license and your company has policy coverage for them to drive your vehicles, background checks will ensure they have no violations.
  • Security: the background check will ensure the potential candidate doesn’t have a listing on a sex offender or terrorism registry.


Gather Information from Employee

Before conducting a background check, you’ll need information from the potential employee. This information includes:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number

You’ll also need their permission to obtain their records. You’ll have to supply them with a form for them to sign disclosing which documents you’ll be collecting, like their credit reports, military records, and school transcripts, for example.


About Background Check Disclosure

Before conducting an employment background check, you must tell your potential employee. According to the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you should disclose this information before the process begins. Otherwise, they can report you to the Federal Trade Commission if you surprise them with a background report.


Before Conducting a Background Check

Obtain Legal Advice

You may unearth sensitive information. In some states, the background check may not be able to pull specific information. So, speak to an attorney to ensure the screening doesn’t cause your company legal issues.

Policy Consistency

Make sure you have a set policy for background checks and that you have it in a step-by-step flow chart. That way, everyone using it knows which steps to complete, and nothing occurs out of order. Legal issues can arise if random employment background checks occur.

Mistakes and Inaccuracies

It isn’t uncommon for information on an employment background check to be inaccurate. You may exclude a greate candidate inadvertently if you’re not giving them a chance to review the information you retrieve. That way, they can clear up mistakes and inaccuracies.


How to Conduct a Background Check

A wide variety of employment background check services are available. Depending on your choice, you may be able to work with one locally or use online services whereby you can personalize the screening you want to use.

Under no circumstance should you use results to discriminate regarding:

  • Age
  • Color or ethnicity
  • Disability
  • Genetics
  • Nationality
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex (including gender identity, pregnancy, and sexual orientation)

Here are the steps for conducting a background check:

  • Provide the employee notification of the background check.
  • Determine what information you can collect according to your state’s laws.
  • Select which CRA (Consumer Reporting Agency) you’ll use.
  • Make sure the CRA is FCRA compliant.
  • Request a report with the CRA you hire.
  • Make a hiring decision after reviewing the report.


About State Law Compliance

Depending on the state your conducting business in, you may face restrictions regarding the employment background check information you can obtain during your hiring process. Here are some examples:

  • Illinois: according to the Genetic Information Privacy Act, you may not ask a potential employee or their family questions for any genetic information.
  • New York: the NYC Human Rights Law prevents you from making hiring decisions regarding a potential employee’s criminal past unless it directly interferes with your business.
  • Vermont: there’s a law banning employers from asking any potential employees for their social media information.


How Long Do Results Take?

Under most circumstances, it takes between one and five days for background check services to verify addresses and social security numbers, perform checks on country criminal records, and check national records. However, some services may produce results instantly. Depending on how in-depth you want to search to be, it could also take weeks.


What Typically Appears in the Results?

The results of your background check will depend on the type you choose. Under most circumstances, you’ll receive information, including identity and employment verification. You may also receive information confirmation qualifications, credit records, criminal records, and driving records, as well.


If You Find Compromising Information

If you find something during the employment background check, you have a requirement to produce a copy of the report to them. Then, they have a right to dispute any mistakes they see or findings. If anything appears erroneous, the potential employee has the right to explain why.

You must have a legitimate cause for disqualifying a potential employee for anything you find during a screening. For example, you can’t exclude a candidate because they’re a 1980 college graduate and are too old for the position. In doing so, you’re discriminating.


Look for Patterns

We all know employment background checks are set up to help companies from experiencing bad hires. However, that doesn’t mean you should be focusing solely on the negative. Evaluate your potential hire by looking for positive patterns, as well. Measure their ability to do the job by considering consistent patterns of positive behavior and performance.


The Importance of Being Thorough

Learning about your potential employee means doing more than calling their previous employers or professional references. Sometimes, these listings may be their roommate or a good friend. Even if the former employer knows a lot about the candidate’s work history, they may have no information about their criminal background.

You can’t depend on social media during your research, either. That’s why you must take your searches beyond online resources when conducting background checks. Broadening your resources means you’re not focusing on a single item. Just because you can verify their address and education doesn’t mean the candidate doesn’t have a criminal history.


Final Thoughts

During hiring decisions, it isn’t uncommon to need additional information. You may also believe the potential candidate is supplying you with inaccurate or false information. Some prospective employees don’t want employers to know specific facts about their past because it may exclude them from the position. Therefore, it’s good practice to perform these screenings during the hiring process. Learning how to do an employment background prevents legal issues from arising and protects your company from experiencing a bad hire.