It is a common practice by many employers to carry out external independent screening of prospective employees during the hiring process and during the promotion or reassignment of an existing employee. Employers carry out background checks through reputable contractors that specialize in the process of adequate background screening to provide more details concerning an applicants personal or professional history, to determine if information provided during application are legitimate or forged to make it seem more appealing. The purpose of Background checks most times revolves around reviewing past records of an applicant that could help in making an employment decision. Background checks may reveal and uncover certain red flags in an applicants past that could be determined as having significant potential to impede your performance or functionality when employed into a job position.
Employers carry out background checks through reputable contractors that specialize in background screening, either to confirm and verify certain professional or personal information the applicant has submitted or to obtain new information that may affect the outcome of the employment process.
Background checks or background screening can therefore be defined as a process through which companies or organizations acquire additional details of an applicant’s professional activities or confirm information provided by the individual applying for a position to determine if there are any red flags indicative of falsification or forgery.
Although the scope of background checks are limited by federal and state laws, there are still certain provisions within the law that allow employers to request for permission from applicants to run checks on elements such as their education records, criminal records, driving records, financial records and other information relevant to the position. Background checks can be a valuable tool to employers during the hiring process, enabling them to make employment decisions based on additional information gotten on an applicant. However, to prevent discrimination against applicants, employers are cautioned against making hiring decisions during the hiring or promotion process based on race, origin, genetic information, age, medical records or ethnicity. Below are some basic elements employers look out for when carrying out background checks;
- Criminal Records
One element employers looks out for when carrying out background checks or screening are prior criminal records or convictions due to misdemeanors, tax frauds etc an applicant may have been subjected to. Depending on the state where you reside, the law may restrict employers from asking questions about arrests or convictions due to incidents that happened at a certain point in the past. The employers when carrying out criminal checks on applicant’s need consider the nature of the crime, when it occurred and its relation to job been applied for.
- Driving records
Employers may also run checks on an applicant’s driving records to check for cases of traffic violations, driving under the influence (DUI), ticket offenses or any other conviction or arrest due to any other traffic violations. The purpose of background checks on driving records is basically to protect the employer from liability, for example; if law enforcement officers find an employee of a certain company responsible for an accident with the use of a company’s vehicle, the employers can sometimes be held responsible for negligence, or for failing to conduct a thorough research on the employees driving ability during the hiring process.
- Credit Checks
Some states limits the access to credit reports as part of background screening because of roles, disruptions and risk factors in the business. Depending on your state of residence, employers can conduct credit checks on employees if the role you are applying for fits into a specific criterion. Credit checks can reveal information on an applicant’s debts including student’s loans, mortgages, car loans, medical bills etc. Owing to this, employers carrying out credit checks need to ensure that any employment decision made using such details should be made following due consultation with experts on the topic of credit reports and scores. Employers are obligated by law in some states to inform candidates prior to credit checks, if the outcome of the screening may impact the hiring process thereby giving applicant’s the opportunity to contact their credit agency to resolve any inaccurate information or clarify certain issue’s concerning their credit.
- Education Verification
Employers may wish to verify and confirm the information or details provided by applicants on their educational background to ensure it is legitimate and not forged. Most times, this verification may be traced back to the applicant’s alumni or educational institutions to gain more information on their participation and performance in curricular and extra-curricular activities.
- Past Employment
The process of employment verification may confirm and verify details on an applicant’s employment history. Investigating an applicant’s previous working experience in another establishment provides valuable information on their overall performance and capability to function individually or jointly in partnership with others.