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What Happens in a Background Check for a Job?

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Security concerns and lawsuits resulting from a company’s hiring practices make evident the contribution that background checks can make to good hiring decisions. A background check is a pre-employment review of a job applicant that confirms the applicant’s credentials and suitability for a position. Background checks, which are regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Equal Employment Opportunity legislation, confirm a variety of information documented in a job application, including an applicant's previous employment and formal education.

Verifying Employment Records

Finding a replacement for an employee who exaggerated or lied on his job application is a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Consequently, a background check, which includes contacting former employers to verify the position held by a job applicant, the duties he performed, the term of the applicant’s employment and the salary he earned, is an important applicant screening process. If state labor laws allow, the verification of employment might also confirm if the employee quit voluntarily or if he was fired.

Confirming Education Records

According to Hireright, a firm that conducts background checks, job candidates might forge diplomas, purchase a degree from a diploma mill, misstate the diploma received or falsely claim to be a college graduate. Because a person’s education can be determining factor in an employee’s success or failure on a job, a company may perform a background check to verify an applicant’s education and training. Depending on state law, on receipt of an applicant’s signed consent form, a school might provide an employer information that confirms or repudiates the degree and years of study the applicant lists on his resume or job application. A company might instead ask a third party to verify the applicant’s education qualifications.

Contacting References

Hiring the wrong person may negatively affect a company’s image, the productivity of its workers and the ongoing commitment of the company’s customers. Consequently, it’s important to perform professional reference checks by contacting the job applicant's former co-workers and friends. The reference check may provide information regarding the applicant’s skills and education, his work ethic and interpersonal skills. The check may also confirm the applicant’s work history, including the dates of his employment and his earned degrees.

Checking Criminal Record

Offering work to the wrong gardener might result in a poorly sheared hedge, but hiring the wrong employee or a career criminal can result in fraud, embezzlement or an employee-on-employee physical attack. It’s essential to conduct an applicant criminal background check that might consist of a county felony and misdemeanor criminal records check, a federal and national criminal records check, a national wants and warrants check, and a sex offender registry check. Other criminal background checks might include a global homeland security search and an international criminal record check.


About the Author

Billie Nordmeyer works as a consultant advising small businesses and Fortune 500 companies on performance improvement initiatives, as well as SAP software selection and implementation. During her career, she has published business and technology-based articles and texts. Nordmeyer holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting, a Master of Arts in international management and a Master of Business Administration in finance.

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