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Background Check

What is a background check?

A background check is an investigation into a person’s professional and personal history that validates or disproves their character and identity.

A typical background check includes criminal records, education and employment history, civil records, references, and more depending on the situation and individual.

Why conduct a background check?

You may want to have a person submit to a background investigation before:

  • Hiring a new employee
  • Taking on a new tenant
  • Making an investment
  • Hiring a nanny
  • Selecting a public official (i.e. police chief or fire chief)

There is no standard or routine background check. The investigation should be tailored to your areas of concern, reasons for finding out more, and your overall needs. Whether you're hiring a new employee, looking for a nanny, or are about to make a new investment, a background check can ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Commonly Detected Lies

People often provide false information on the following:

  • Education history and degrees
  • Professional background and work history
  • Licenses and professional organization membership
  • Omitting prior experience to hide a grievance or lawsuit

How do you conduct a background check?

There are automated background checks available via the internet, but that information is often incomplete or inaccurate. Each record, whether found through the internet or another source, needs to be verified for validity. A private investigator can provide detailed and accurate information about a person and ensure that the information is accurate.

Problems and Limitations of Online Background Checks

  • Not all records are available online
  • The information may not be accurate or up-to-date
  • The validity of the record still needs to be verified
  • Does not include checking references, past employers, degrees, etc.

Working with an Investigator

Working with an investigator is the best way to ensure that the information you receive is accurate and reliable. A background check investigator can also give you further insight about the person's character through interviews and looking into the person's professional and personal history.

Information You Need

Having as much information as possible can make the background investigation a quicker process. Some information you may want to have:

  • Full name with middle initial
  • Date and location of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Schools attended and awarded degrees
  • Past employers

Although it is ideal to have all of the above, a good investigator can research a person with very little information.

Criminal vs Complete Background Checks

Two common investigations are criminal and complete background checks.

Criminal Background Check: The sole purpose of a criminal background check is to determine whether or not the person has a criminal record.

Complete Background Check: A complete background investigation involves looking at all public records that are available. This can include driving records, education and employment history, and more.

A criminal check does have its limitations. For example, in some states a DUI shows up in a driving record but not in a criminal record.

5 Reasons Why Background Checks are Crucial for Recruitment

by Alex Gomez

Background checks have become an essential part of the hiring process. As a member of the recruitment team, it is your job to make intelligent and effective hiring decisions that will ensure the best possible outcome for the company. Hiring someone based on a cursory evaluation can sometimes lead to serious problems down the line, because aside from ending up with an employee who is not right for the job, you may also end up with someone who could compromise the company’s operations or end up endangering the safety of other employees—which can lead to possible legal issues such as negligent hiring lawsuits.

A background check, whether performed by a dedicated background check provider or a licensed private investigation firm, is crucial in determining important employment deciding factors, such as a candidate’s credit history, criminal background, and even aspects of their character and personality. It will also help you verify the accuracy of the information they’ve provided in their application.

Some companies are hesitant to incorporate such measures into their own hiring processes due to the possible legal implications with regards to hiring discrimination. But in most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks, and as long as proper implementation of pre-employment background checks is observed, there should be no problem with legalities.

Here are a few key reasons why background checks are crucial for recruitment:

Determine whether candidate is qualified for the position

Background checks can help employers determine whether an applicant is faking or overstating their credentials. Hiring an individual who is not a fit for the job can cause companies to waste valuable resources due to time and money they would have to spend in training that particular employee. This will, of course, include the company’s subsequent efforts to rehire and replace this same employee.

Protect the company’s reputation and organizational assets

All employees have the capacity to potentially ruin a company’s reputation, but even more so for high-level positions that involve more visibility and even media exposure, in some cases. Background checks can help you safeguard against reputation damage by allowing you to spot possible character defects and negative behavioral patterns.

If the job position constitutes any level of access to the company’s physical assets, proprietary information, or even important financial documents, it is important to perform a background check beforehand to avoid possible theft, destruction of company property, and even corporate espionage.

Safeguard against negligent hiring claims

Last month, two women claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Uber drivers and filed a negligent hiring case against the company. The lawsuit claims that Uber failed to conduct a thorough screening process and that had they been more thorough in checking the backgrounds of their respective employees, this incident would not have happened.

Dealing with lawsuits like this can be costly, not to mention damaging to the reputation of the company. Conducting proper background checks are even more important in these cases, as they help absolve companies of liability in the event of negligent hiring claims.

Ensure the safety of other employees

A candidate may appear perfectly pleasant during the interview stage, but that does not assure that this person will remain so for the rest of their stay in the company. Employers must always investigate candidates prior to hiring, as this will help them uncover anger management issues, hidden criminal records, or anything in their personal or professional history that suggests that they may cause harm to other employees.

Avoiding employee theft

According to recently compiled statistics, at least 75 percent of employees have stolen at least once from their employer, and 33 percent of all business bankruptcies are caused by employee theft.

Given the high possibility such occurrences, and how much it affects the businesses involved, it becomes even more essential to ensure that the company takes every available measure to avoid such instances.

Theft can also be done at the expense of other employees, so think of background checking as a measure to protect all employees within the company.

When performed lawfully and respectfully, background checking ceases to be a daunting part of the hiring process, but instead becomes a way of safeguarding the interests of all parties involved, and building the foundation of a good employee and employer relationship.

Background Check Articles


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