Hiring with Confidence: Best Practices for Conducting Background Checks

As an employer, you want to ensure that you are hiring the best candidates for the job. Conducting a comprehensive background check on potential employees is an essential step in the hiring process. Not only does it help you identify any red flags or potential risks associated with a candidate, but it can also protect your company from potential lawsuits.

According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 80% of employers conduct some form of background check on potential employees. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to conducting a background check, a comprehensive check can provide you with valuable information that can help you make informed hiring decisions.

a private investigator reviewing documents

A thorough background check can provide numerous benefits to employers, including:

  1. Ensuring a Safe Workplace: Identify any criminal history or violent behaviour that may pose a risk to your workplace and other employees.
  2. Protecting Your Company: Verify a candidate’s employment history, education, and qualifications, as well as identify any potential lawsuits or legal issues.
  3. Reducing Turnover: A comprehensive background check can help ensure that you are hiring the right candidate for the job, reducing the likelihood of turnover due to poor performance or job fit.
  4. Maintaining Company Culture: A thorough check can help you ensure that the candidate aligns with your company culture and values, promoting a positive work environment.


Preparing for a background check

It is critical to plan ahead of time before doing a background check on a possible employee. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Obtain Consent: It is important to obtain written consent from the candidate. The consent form should inform him of the types of information that will be obtained, how it will be used, and who will have access to it.
  2. Establish Clear Criteria: Establish clear criteria for what you are looking for. This can include criminal history, employment verification, education verification, credit history, and more.
  3. Understand Legal Requirements: Familiarize yourself with federal and state laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and state-specific laws.
  4. Choose a Reliable Background Check Provider: Choose a reputable provider that specializes in comprehensive background checks. Look for providers that are FCRA-compliant, have experience in your industry, and can provide references.
  5. Develop a Consistent Process: Develop a consistent process for conducting background checks, including who will be responsible for conducting the check, what information will be obtained, and how it will be used.
  6. Document the process: Document the entire process, including the consent form, criteria used, results obtained, and how the information was used. This documentation can help you demonstrate compliance with legal requirements and protect your company from potential lawsuits.


Following these procedures will ensure that you are ready to conduct a thorough background check on new workers. The various elements of a comprehensive check will be discussed in the next sections.


Conducting the background check

an individual in a vehicle who is using a computer

Once you have prepared, it’s time to start the process. Here are the various components you need to take into account:

  • Criminal History: A criminal history check can reveal any past criminal convictions, including misdemeanors and felonies. This check is essential for jobs that involve handling sensitive information or working with vulnerable populations.
  • Employment Verification: Employment verification involves checking the candidate’s employment history, including job titles, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving previous jobs.
  • Education Verification: Education verification involves verifying the candidate’s education credentials, including degrees earned, dates of attendance, and institutions attended. By doing so, you can make sure the applicant meets the requirements for the position and has the required education.
  • Credit History: A credit history check can reveal the candidate’s credit score, payment history, and debt-to-income ratio. For jobs involving handling money or being in a position of trust, this check is necessary.
  • Reference Checks: Reference checks involve contacting the candidate’s professional and personal references to verify their character, work ethic, and qualifications. You can use this to assess whether the applicant has the necessary skills for the position and is a good fit for the company’s culture.
  • Social Media: A social media check can reveal any negative information about the candidate that may not be disclosed in other components of the background check. This can include inappropriate behavior, controversial opinions, or criminal activity.


Keep in mind that while some components, such as criminal history and credit checks, may require written consent from the candidate, others, such as social media checks, may not be allowed under certain state laws.


Social Media Screening

Social media screening is becoming an increasingly important component. Social media platforms can provide insight into a candidate’s personality, interests, and potential red flags that may not be revealed in other components of the background check. Here are some pointers for efficient social media screening:

Understand the legal considerations

Some states have laws that limit the use of social media in hiring decisions, and candidates must provide consent before their social media accounts can be searched.

Determine which platforms to check

With so many social media platforms available, it can be challenging to determine which ones to check. The most commonly used platforms for professional purposes are LinkedIn and Twitter. However, Facebook and Instagram can also provide valuable insights into a candidate’s personality and interests.

Establish a procedure

It’s essential to have a consistent and objective screening process in place. This can include identifying specific keywords or topics to search for, such as inappropriate behavior, drug use, or discriminatory language. It’s important to ensure that the screening process is non-discriminatory and does not violate any privacy laws.

Use common sense

When conducting social media screening, it’s important to use good judgment and avoid making assumptions or judgments based on one post or comment. Social media screening should be used as a supplement to other components of the background check and not as the sole basis for a hiring decision.


Verifying identity and authorization to work

a detective reviewing paperwork

It is critical to verify potential employees’ identities and authorization to work in the country where they will be employed. This ensures that the candidate is legally qualified to work and prevents the business from recruiting someone who is working illegally.

Here are some measures you can take to confirm a candidate’s identity and work authorization:

  • Check Identification Documents: Ask the candidate to provide identification documents such as a passport, national ID card, or driver’s license. These documents can be used to verify the candidate’s name, date of birth, and country of origin.
  • Check Work Authorization: In most countries, employers are required to verify that a candidate is authorized to work in the country where the job is located. In the United States, for example, employers must use Form I-9 to verify the employment eligibility of new hires. Other countries may have similar requirements and forms.
  • Verify Documents: Once you have obtained the candidate’s identification and work authorization documents, you should verify their authenticity. This can be done by comparing the information on the documents to other sources of information, such as public records or databases. You may also consider using a third-party vendor to conduct a more thorough verification of the documents.
  • Follow Up with Candidates: If you encounter any discrepancies or issues with the candidate’s identification or work authorization documents, you should follow up to resolve these issues. This may involve asking the candidate to provide additional documentation or clarifying information.


By validating a candidate’s identification and work authorization, you can assure that you are recruiting someone who is legally permitted to work in your nation. This protects your company from the legal and financial risks connected with hiring illegal workers while also ensuring that you hire the best candidate for the job.



When it comes to completing a thorough background check on potential employees, you can do so in-house or outsource the task to a third-party supplier. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and it is critical to analyze your organization’s specific needs before making a decision.

Outsourcing can offer several benefits, including:

  • Expertise and Resources: Third-party providers have the resources and expertise to conduct thorough and accurate screenings. They may have access to databases and tools that are not available to your organization, which can enhance the accuracy and completeness of the check.
  • Time-saving: Conducting background checks in-house can be time-consuming and can take valuable resources away from other important tasks. Outsourcing the task can free up your staff’s time, allowing them to focus on other critical business functions.
  • Reduced Liability: Third-party providers are experts in complying with relevant laws and regulations, which can help reduce your organization’s liability in case of a lawsuit.


However, there are also potential drawbacks:

  • Cost: Outsourcing checks can be more expensive than conducting them in-house, especially if you have a large number of candidates to screen.
  • Loss of Control: Outsourcing can result in a loss of control over the screening process. You may not have direct access to the information being collected, and you may have limited ability to customize the screening process to meet your organization’s specific needs.
  • Quality Concerns: Third-party providers may not always provide the level of quality that you expect. It’s important to research potential providers thoroughly and ask for references to ensure that you are working with a reputable provider.


If you prefer to outsource, follow these guidelines to find the best provider:

Research: Conduct thorough research on potential providers. Look for reviews and ask for references from other organizations that have worked with the provider.

Check for Compliance: Ensure that the provider complies with relevant laws and regulations, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the United States.

Transparency: Look for providers who are transparent about their screening process and the information they collect. Ensure that they provide clear and accurate reports.

Customization: Consider providers who can customize their screening process to meet your organization’s specific needs.

Cost: Compare the cost of outsourcing to the cost of conducting background checks in-house. Determine if the cost of outsourcing is worth the benefits it provides.


Navigating Legal Considerations

A man with an iPad and what appears to be a scale icon floating

It’s usually a good idea to be aware of any legal factors that may impact the process. Failure to comply with legal requirements might result in legal action being taken against your company, so it’s critical to keep aware and follow all applicable laws and regulations:

  • Compliance with local laws: Depending on your location, there may be local laws that regulate the types of information you can gather, how you can use that information, and the process you must follow to obtain it. Make sure you’re familiar with any relevant local laws and regulations.
  • Compliance with federal laws: In many countries, including the United States, there are federal laws that regulate background checks. For example, in the US, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the use of consumer reports, including background checks, for employment purposes.
  • Obtaining consent: In most cases, you’ll need to obtain consent from the individual. This is typically done through a written authorization form that the individual signs. Make sure you have a clear and concise authorization form that complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • Adverse action: If you decide not to hire an individual based on information uncovered, you may be required to follow certain procedures to comply with applicable laws and regulations. For example, in the US, the FCRA requires employers to provide individuals with a pre-adverse action notice, a copy of the background check report, and a summary of their rights under the law before taking any adverse action.
  • Non-discrimination: It’s important to ensure that your background check policies and procedures do not discriminate against any protected classes of individuals. For example, in the US, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance on the use of criminal background checks in employment decisions, and employers must be careful not to use criminal history information in a way that has a disparate impact on certain protected classes.


Making informed decisions

what seems to be two individuals doing separate calculations

Once you have all the data collected, how do you use it to make informed decisions?

Here are some key factors to consider:

Relevant information: Focus on the information that is relevant to the position being filled. For example, if the job involves working with children, criminal history checks are especially important. If the position requires driving, make sure you check the candidate’s driving record. By narrowing your focus, you can ensure that you are making decisions based on the most pertinent information.

Consistency: Ensure that you apply the same standards to all candidates for the same position. It’s important to have a consistent process and criteria for evaluating candidates to avoid any claims of discrimination.

Individualized assessments: Be sure to conduct an individualized assessment for any adverse findings in the background check. An individualized assessment is a process where you take into account the nature of the offense, how long ago it occurred, and any mitigating circumstances before making a decision. This step can help you avoid making blanket decisions that could potentially exclude qualified candidates.

Open communication: Finally, it’s important to communicate with the candidate throughout the process. If you uncover any adverse findings, allow the candidate an opportunity to respond and provide additional information. This communication can help you better understand the circumstances and make a more informed decision.


Final Thoughts

In summary, conducting background checks is an essential part of the hiring process that can help you make informed decisions and ensure the safety of your workplace. By following best practices and staying up-to-date on legal considerations, you can conduct thorough and effective screenings.

Remember to tailor your approach based on the specific job and industry, and use a variety of sources to gather information. Additionally, consider outsourcing to a reputable third-party screening provider if necessary.

Keep in mind that these are just one piece of the puzzle. Be sure to also evaluate candidates based on their skills, experience, and cultural fit within your organization.

By prioritizing safety and thoroughness in your hiring process, you can create a workplace that is secure, productive, and successful.

To run a background check for employment, you can hire a third-party provider who specializes in screening candidates or conduct the check in-house. Depending on the type of check you want to run, you will need the candidate’s consent and personal information. The screening process may include a criminal history check, employment and education verification, credit check, drug screening, and other relevant searches.
Background checks involve verifying a candidate’s identity, criminal record, education and employment history, credit score, and other relevant information. Depending on the scope of the check, the employer or the third-party provider may use various sources to collect the data, such as government records, public databases, credit bureaus, and social media. The purpose of the background check is to assess the candidate’s qualifications, character, and potential risks to the employer and co-workers.
Most employers use a combination of criminal history, employment verification, and education verification checks to screen candidates. Depending on the industry and the job requirements, additional checks such as drug screening, credit check, and reference check may also be required. Employers should follow legal and ethical guidelines when conducting background checks and ensure that all candidates are treated fairly and consistently.
If you are an employer or a hiring manager, you should inform the candidate about the background check process and obtain their consent before running the check. You should also provide them with the necessary forms and explain what types of information will be collected and how it will be used. If you are a candidate who wants to request a background check for yourself, you can contact a third-party provider or the relevant agencies to obtain your own records.
The key background review questions may vary depending on the employer’s industry, job requirements, and legal compliance. Some common questions may include:Have you ever been convicted of a crime or misdemeanor? Have you ever been fired or disciplined for misconduct or ethical violations? Have you ever provided false or misleading information on your resume or application? Can you provide proof of your education and employment history? Do you have any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest that may affect your job performance? Are you authorized to work in the country or region where the job is located? Have you ever been involved in any lawsuits or legal disputes that may impact your suitability for the job?
Spread the word:
Spread the word:
Accelerating Solid Intelligence, From Every Corner of the Globe.

Axeligence is a leading provider of intelligence and investigations, comprised of only the most exceptional ex-Israeli intelligence officers

Accelerating Solid Intelligence, From Every Corner of the Globe.

Join 100,000+ Subscribers

Keep up with the most recent intelligence developments on the planet.


We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.