Recruitment for a company – regardless of the industry in which one operates – usually involves several stages in which it is possible to get to know a candidate and test his or her knowledge and skills: from reviewing the information contained in a resume, through recruitment tasks or a comprehensive Assessment Center, to various personality tests.

The juxtaposition of all these elements (examining both hard and soft skills) is intended to help make the right decision to hire or reject a person. Some employers are expanding this catalog to include a so-called background check, or learning about a potential employee’s past. Below we explain exactly what this process entails and what is examined during it, and consider whether it is really necessary to do so.

What is a background check and what is its purpose?

Background check, or background investigation (not only professional), is the process of collecting information and data on a potential employee to assess his supposed qualifications, credibility and character. It serves primarily to safeguard the interests of the employer.

On the one hand, it is supposed to confirm that the candidate will be an appropriate fit for his or her position (by examining whether he or she has provided reliable information regarding his or her experience and skills), which is supposed to ensure the expected level of productivity and efficiency.

On the other hand – the background check is supposed to help protect the company’s image, especially when the employee will have direct contact with customers or represent the company externally. This is because employers want to avoid situations in which an employee may damage the company’s reputation due to inappropriate behavior or a controversial past.

Background check – what does it include?

What elements will be examined as part of the background check depends on the company conducting it (as well as the applicable laws in the country), but among the most commonly repeated are:

  • Employment history – verification of previous jobs, dates of employment, positions held, duties performed and level of responsibility held is to confirm the candidate’s experience and skills (i.e., the veracity of the elements listed in the resume), that is, to certify that he or she is the right person for the role,
  • Education – assessing graduated schools and degrees received also aims to confirm the employee’s qualifications (it is also worth remembering that sometimes higher education is necessary for certain professions due to current legislation),
  • References – examination of the references provided serves primarily to check the credibility of the job candidate, but also to find out the opinion of previous employers on the quality of the fulfillment of duties. You can acquire knowledge of character or behavior in the workplace and with co-workers, to confirm that the candidate can become an added value to the company.

Is it necessary to investigate the past of employees?

We should point out that whether one decides to conduct a background check on a job candidate depends in most cases on factors such as the industry, type of work or local laws (to a lesser extent, it is determined by the company’s employment policy).

Background checks are most often encountered in the case of so-called public trust professions (such as police officers, teachers, detectives, security agency employees, camp educators) – in which case a criminal record check is conducted primarily due to issues related to the security of the company or institution and the people associated with it.

Background checks are also critical in the financial industry, where a candidate can gain access to sensitive financial data (in which case, for example, his credit history is checked), as well as, for example, drivers (for compliance with traffic rules).

Background check

Background check – summary

Given the cost of recruiting (as well as re-recruiting if, after a probationary period, it turns out that the new employee didn’t work out), it should come as no surprise that employers want to make sure they hire the right person in every way possible.

When wishing to conduct a background check, however, be sure to consult with your company’s lawyer or human resources specialist to obtain information about local laws and best practices in this area before making a decision. In this way, we will ensure that through our actions we do not in any way violate the privacy of job candidates (and data protection laws) and obtain a satisfactory result for us.

If you like our content, join our busy bees community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok.

Background check. Are background checks of potential employees necessary? nicole mankin avatar 1background

Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.