Employee Background Screening: Things to Consider Before You Proceed

Pre-employment background checks look quite simple on paper, but when it comes to implementing it, things are not so rosy. In fact, things are more complex than you can ever think. It is important to update yourself with the latest rules and guidelines pertaining to the legal compliance of pre-employment background checks.

Every year there is a rise in the cases pertaining to fraud, theft and workplace safety issues. This makes the case in favor of organizations to start conducting background checks on their prospective candidates. The best thing about pre-employment background check is that it provides useful insights pertaining to the candidate in terms of their educational qualification, credit history, previous employment history, criminal records and social media personifications.

It is possible for you to conduct pre-employment background checks, but, you need to keep yourself updated about the local, state and federal laws pertaining to these checks. Also, watch out for these things before conducting pre-employment background checks on prospective candidates:

1. Certain things cannot be scrutinized lawfully

As per the laws, it is impossible to screen particular personal history of the candidate. So, never try to disclose that information by using background check process. This includes, but is not limited to the request of a candidate’s medical record or showing discrimination against the candidate on the basis of their medical history.

It is even difficult to lay your hands on military service records as it requires you to take the permission of the respected person before conducting the check. It is also important to take the prior permission before asking for schooling records, including recommendations or transcripts. But, degrees and certifications can be considered to be a matter of public record that can be checked.

After the acceptance of “Ban the Box” laws, certain US states prohibit you from asking criminal history of the candidate during the job application process. Even, if you are planning to conduct polygraph tests and written honesty tests remember, that they are also prohibited from being taken in certain situations.

2. Do not opt for a mid way approach rather always carry out comprehensive background checks of the candidate

Every time it is impossible to get adequate information about the candidate on the basis of their criminal and public records. Although it is good to know that the person you are considering hiring is not a hardcore criminal, EEOC has placed limits on organizations to discard a candidate on the basis of their criminal history.

Apart from these records, you can get valuable information pertaining to the candidate from their social media accounts, their credit history and of course driving records. Also, check the educational background of the candidate since, there have been lots of cases where candidates have lied on their resumes about their educational credentials.

You also need to verify is the employment history of the candidate. There are certain candidates who have the habit of only mentioning the years of employment without mentioning the months which makes it difficult for you to judge their employment period in an organization. This can be a very big red flag for the organization as it can tell you that the candidate is hiding something from you.

Once you are on the verge of giving the offer letter to the candidate, scrutinize their references in the end, and, ask their supervisors to provide you details about the responsibilities handled by the candidate. Also, ask them to give you one more reference. If the candidate is good, the supervisors will have no hesitancy in giving you one more reference. It is also a good habit of inquiring about any awards and certificates received by the candidate from their immediate superior, who gave the award/certificate to determine its authenticity.

3. The candidate has the right to ask if something negative crops up in the background check report

It is important for an organization to comply with the FCRA laws to carry out pre-employment background checks in a legally compliant manner. Inform the candidate that you are going to conduct pre-employment background check on their records before hiring them. If anything negative comes up in the background check reports, remember, you need to provide the information to the candidate. He/she can then have the right to dispute if anything incomplete or inaccurate is being depicted in the background check report.

This is not an easy step. Hence, it is necessary that you contemplate on using legal compliance while conducting pre-employment background check and work as a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) to quicken the procedure. If you are not sure about following this process, the best resort is to hire an background screening company that can assist you in preparing the reports by complying with the legal laws.

4. Opt for a professional background check partner

Every state will have a different law pertaining to the information that can be collected through a background check. By hiring a professional background check partner, that has adequate knowledge about the privacy and anti-discriminatory laws, will make your task easier. You can use this option, in case, you are worried about encountering legal issues, or do not know the process of conducting background checks thoroughly. But, always use your discretion while choosing a background check partner for your organization. 


By taking these things mentioned in this article into consideration, you are giving yourself an additional lifeline in selecting the best talent for your organization. Although the things mentioned in this article are quite simple, quite a few organizations are not able to fulfill the legal compliances and face the brunt of facing legal actions.

The best thing is to keep yourself updated with the legal compliances related to pre-employment background checks in your country; and follow the various laws to keep yourself from getting into any legal trouble while conducting the process. In the end, we would like to say, stay vigilant, and plan your pre-employment background check process in such a way that you make the best hiring decision for your organization.

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