In a day and age when the economy is struggling, identity theft is on the rise, and employers have more than a full plate on their hands, checking employee backgrounds prior to hiring becomes even more relevant.

This is a guest post by Dave Thomas.

As more and more individuals try and find work, things sometimes slip through the cracks, meaning employers need to be sure that out of all the applicants looking to acquire work, they hire the right individuals.

The best way for employers to minimize the chances of hiring the wrong employees is by conducting a background check on each and every individual who sets foot in the door for an interview.

While background checks are perfectly legal, they do need to be done within the parameters of the law, i.e. certain questions may not be asked etc.


Filtering Out Troubled Applicants

According to information from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, false or misleading details given by job applicants, is estimated by some experts to be at 30 to 40 percent of all information provided on both job applications and resumes.

The typical fields of work that draw background checks include positions involving interaction with children, jobs where employees are in contact with senior citizens, positions involving daily interaction with major funds and/or company expenses, and positions like police, doctors, nurses etc.

Among the things to consider when screening applicants are:

  • Don’t cross boundaries – Certain guidelines are in place to protect applicants as they search for jobs. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers need the permission of the applicant prior to obtaining the report. Make sure you get all the pertinent information in order to assist you with your hiring choices, but do it in a means that does not potentially open you up to a lawsuit;
  • Look for past issues – As we all know, certain positions require that workers have not had issues in their past. As an example, if you run a business where employees handle money during the day, you do not want to hire someone who was fired from a previous position where their trustworthiness with funds was called into question;
  • Key reasons for screening individuals – While background checks have been around for some time now, more recent trends over the last decade-plus have led to them becoming more in vogue. Two popular trends have been protecting a company given the wave of terrorism and more incidents of workplace violence, and an increase in “negligent hiring” lawsuits. If someone poses a security risk, such information should come out during a background check;
  • Things included in a background check – Among the things an employer can learn about a prospective candidate are their driving records, credit reports, criminal records, any bankruptcy filings, drug test records and sex offender lists. As an employer, make sure the information is confined to your office so that someone cannot later claim the information got out and damaged their character, leading to a potential lawsuit against you;
  • Find out if there are inconsistencies – Another plus by doing background checks is that you can compare and contrast what an applicant provides you. If you have the applicant in for an interview and they say one thing, then a background check contradicts that, you have reason to be hesitant about hiring the individual. One of the most important traits an employer wants in an employee is trust. Use the background check to make sure the candidate says what they mean and means what they say.

In most cases, background checks will take three days to a week to be completed.

If you’re looking at instant background checks, keep in mind that the majority of them rely on databases that can be incomplete or incorrect.

Lastly, the best means by which to speed up a background check and still get worthwhile information is to provide the agency conducting the check with complete information and documentation. By using an agency that has the information available online, you can also move up the process.

By using background checks in your line of work, you increase the chances of hiring the right personnel, decrease the chances of issues and potential lawsuits at work, and give yourself some piece of mind.


About the Author:

Dave Thomas, who covers among other subjects’ background checks, writes extensively for, an online retarget destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.