Should Your Company Run a Pre-Employment Background Check?

Hiring a new employee presents a unique opportunity to level up your team. They can add—or detract—from your company’s culture, goals, and bottom line. So when it comes to finding the right person, you’ve got to use every tool in your arsenal. One of the tools many employers lean on as they narrow down candidates is the pre-employment background check.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 92% of employers conduct an employment background screening to verify things like employment and education history. Some employers prefer a more in-depth history, with 83% of those surveyed opting for criminal background checks in addition to corroborating basic information.

A background check adds an extra step to your hiring process, but in many cases, the pros outweigh the cons. With BambooHR, you can seamlessly integrate your background check software with your applicant tracking system (ATS) to ensure you check all the boxes as you find the perfect candidate.

What Is a Background Check for Employment?

A background check is a comprehensive process to verify a job candidate’s history. While background checks can cover a wide range of information about a candidate, the most common types cover employment history, education, and criminal history.

A background check gives the employer a full picture of the candidate so they can make the best hiring decisions regarding the best fit for the role, the team, and the company.

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What Does a Pre-Employment Background Check Show?

Because background checks can cover as much or as little ground as you choose, the answer to “What does a background check show?” ultimately depends on the type of background check you run.

Ultimately, the goal of any background check is to determine if the person is who they say they are. Here are a few of the most common types of verification that employees typically include in a pre-employment background check:

Employment Verification

When hiring for a role, verifying that each candidate is qualified can help you narrow down your decision. Employment verifications cover a candidate’s work history, including positions held, dates of employment, job responsibilities, and more. An employment verification can be especially helpful if candidates have gaps in their resumes.

Education Verification

Education verifications cover a candidate’s education history, with information on high school graduation status, community college degrees, advanced degrees, and more. Depending on what company you use for the background check, education verifications may also dive into professional certifications and licenses, giving you even more insight into the full scope of a candidate’s education.

Criminal History

When someone thinks of a background check, a criminal history check is likely the first type of check that comes to mind. This type covers a wide swath of ground, from minor infractions to felony convictions.

Depending on the role’s requirements, you may choose to go more in-depth on the type of check you choose. For instance, criminal history checks are especially important when hiring for jobs that require close, one-on-one interactions with the public—like childcare providers or rideshare drivers.

Drug Screening

A pre-employment drug screening determines whether or not a candidate uses illicit drugs or abuses prescription medicine. Substance use disorders are of interest to employers because of potential loss of productivity, increased healthcare costs, and most importantly, the increased risk of workplace accidents.

It’s also essential to stay on top of shifting state and federal drug testing laws. For instance, Washington state recently tightened restrictions around employers making hiring decisions based on cannabis use outside of work.

Social Media Screening

A social media screening is arguably the most subjective of all screening types. If you’re familiar with the term “Facebook stalking,” you’re already familiar with the idea behind a social media screen. Searching through a candidate’s social media profiles to identify interests, values, and more can, in theory, help determine whether the candidate is a good fit.

However, it can also open the door to all types of discrimination—whether from explicit or unconscious bias. Our friends over at Checkr actually advise against social media screens.

Credit Check

A pre-employment credit check focuses on a candidate’s financial history, available credit, payment history, bankruptcies, outstanding debts, and more.

This type of screening can be helpful when concerns about potential theft or fraud go along with the role. For example, a financial advisor may be asked to complete a pre-employment credit check because they have intimate knowledge of their clients’ finances.

Identity Verification

Employment identity theft is, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. Identity verification is one of the safeguards employers have to prevent hiring a candidate who has falsified information. In essence, it proves (or disproves) that a candidate is who they say they are.

Driving Record

Pre-employment driving record checks can prove that a candidate is adequately licensed and has a track record of safe driving. This type of check can show licensures, moving violations, DUIs, and more.

Driving record checks are especially important for any role where the operation of a motor vehicle will be a regular part of the job—bus drivers, delivery drivers, etc.

Why Do Employers Run Background Checks?

Candidates are understandably trying to put their best foot forward when crafting a concise resume. After all, you’re not likely to include every minor traffic infraction on a sheet of paper intended to showcase your work qualifications, right?

Employers use background checks for a more well-rounded view of a candidate as they make their hiring decisions.

The two main reasons for a background check are:

1. To Verify Information and Ensure Qualifications

Corroborating information included on a candidate’s application and resume is the baseline for most background checks. Ensuring a candidate’s experience qualifies them for the role—and that they are who they say they are—is the first step toward choosing the right candidate for many employers.

2. To Get a Full Picture of the Candidate

Put simply, a pre-employment background check can provide more color than what an employer might be able to glean from a job application. Depending on the depth of the background check, employers can gain a deeper understanding of not only the candidate’s background, but how that affects what they bring to the table.

Things to Consider When Running Background Checks

If background checks are a regular part of your hiring process, there are a few things to consider regarding compliance and how to make sure you’re using the information in the best way possible:

What Are the Best Background Check Sites?

The background check platform you use should ultimately line up with your goals around background checks in general. Here are some questions to ask when choosing the best background check platform to fit your needs:

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