Background Check Basics

Background Check Basics

Pre-employment background screenings are a critical component of candidate selection. Reliable, accurate screening reports serve hiring managers by verifying candidate information and identifying risks prior to onboarding a new employee to the organization. Here are answers to five common questions about background checks:

How long does a background check take?

In today’s competitive labor environment, speed is everything. As a result, the temptation to forego the background check is strong, but the industry standard for run-of-the-mill checks is between 24-72 hours, which is a small price to pay for the security these screens bring. Screens for candidates who have lived worked, or studied internationally will take longer. A final result can also be delayed if the preliminary findings reveal info that requires further clarification. 

Are there laws about background checks?

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs the collection, use, and storage of personal consumer information. State and local laws may also dictate how background checks are conducted, and EEOC guidelines ensure that candidates are treated fairly. 

Are commercial database searches worthwhile?

Not really. National commercial databases are cobbled together from a variety of sources and, as a result, are often inaccurate, out of date, and incomplete. A search of one of these databases is a reasonable place to start as it might reveal a red flag that can be used to begin further digging, but employers should never rely on them exclusively. 

Is doing a DIY candidate search online a good idea?

This is not recommended for several reasons.

  • Incomplete. Not all records are available digitally, so something will likely be missing.
  • Inaccurate. It’s difficult to know if the information found online is correct or if it applies to the right individual. 
  • Finding stuff that can’t be used. An internet search of social media and other sites may reveal information about a candidate that cannot legally be used for hiring decisions. Race, disabilities, health, religion, gender identity, and other characteristics are protected and should never be considered when making hiring decisions.

How do businesses choose a screening partner?

Partnering with a professional screening agency is the key to obtaining accurate, reliable, compliant background checks in good time and at a reasonable price. Look for a screening agency with the following:

  • a solid reputation
  • good credentials
  • packages that meet the needs of the business
  • compliance tools
  • ATS integrations
  • quick turnaround times

The best background checks are professional background checks. 


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