Finding just the right person to fill a position in your company can be a difficult feat. There are resumes to review, the interview—maybe even a few of them—and then if that goes well, there’s the employee background check.
Though it may be more daunting for them than for you, this complete guide on how to run a background check for employment will help ease any anxieties you have about the background check process.
While we can’t guarantee you’ll like what you see on your potential employee’s report, after reading this article, you’ll know how to run compliant background checks on future job candidates.
What is a Background Check?
A background check is a way to learn detailed information about a potential employee’s history.
While you may be able to gain some insight from the applicant’s resume, and they may even divulge some personal information during their interview, a professional background check goes into detail about the candidate’s background. It gives you information regarding their past, which will help you make an informed decision when it comes down to the hiring decision.
While it’s illegal to discriminate based on someone’s race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability—and there are certain questions regarding medical conditions and age you should always avoid—conducting a background screening is completely legal.
A thorough pre-employment background check will provide you with valuable information you may otherwise never know — and you can use it to make an informed decision about who you hire, so long as your decision isn’t based on one the those protected categories.
More than just gathering information about a potential employee for the sake of knowing them better, a background screening is also a way to protect your company. As an interviewee, it’s easy to sing your own praises during a job interview. Background checks make sure all the praises are truthful and that the person you are hiring is who they say they are.
What Does a Background Check Show?
When you hear the words “background check,” you probably think of checking someone’s criminal record. And while this is an aspect of background checks, background screenings cover a variety of categories and provide various types of information relevant to a person’s history.
Depending on the type of employee background check you conduct, a screening can include information about a person’s educational background, work history and financial history. Along with a candidate’s criminal record that includes any arrests or convictions, the screening can also include their driving record and tell you if they are a registered sex offender.
While a job candidate will likely disclose their past work experience on their resume and job application, conducting a background check that includes employment verification allows you to be sure they have the experience they claim to have. This includes checking their past job titles, timeframe of employment, salaries, and more. It’s important that you are hiring the best person for the position, and false experience just won’t do the trick.
While credit checks do in fact check credit, they also cover a lot of personal information including present and past addresses and social security number, as well as any present or past debts, payments, and late payments. Doing a background check that includes a credit check helps you feel confident the person you’re hiring is truthful and responsible.
This one is pretty straight forward: you’ll want to do a criminal background check to ensure the individual you are hiring won’t be a danger to your company or to other employees. It is important to consider the type of offense that was committed, as well as the time that has passed since the incident.
However, it is important to note that under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there are certain guidelines as to whether an employer can choose not to hire someone based on arrests or convictions found during their background check.
Because an arrest doesn’t mean the said person was actually found guilty of committing the act, there are no grounds to deny employment, unless further investigation shows clear wrongdoing. Even more, if a person does have convictions that appear on their background check, the EEOC guidelines recommend extra consideration be taken to ensure the convictions are accurate before denying employment based on these findings.
Why would an employer need to know all of this information about a potential employee?
Knowing all of these details will help ease any uncertainties you have about a job candidate and help you determine if the person of interest is truly a good fit for your company.
While a background check is definitely not the only factor you should consider when deciding whether or not to hire someone, it does help paint a full picture and give you a broad understanding of the person’s experiences, successes, and stability.
How to Run an Employee Background Check
Now that you know what a background check is and why they are so important to the pre-employment process, you may be wondering, what do I need to run a background check?
Before you run an employee background check, here are a few things you should know:
If you decide to go the more convenient route and choose a background check company like iprospectcheck to run an employee background screening for you, there are vital steps you need to take to ensure you follow all legal regulations, especially if you use the results of a background check as a reason not to hire someone.
Third party companies that run background checks must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which protects the personal information of the applicant who is going through the screening.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Background Checks: What You Need to Know
Passed by Congress in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is meant to protect consumers with the privacy of their information that is held by consumer reporting agencies. This law is regulated and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
While this law was initially meant to protect financial information, its scope has been expanded significantly to include information on pre-employment background checks that consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) like background check companies report and how employers must handle the screening process.
To ensure compliance with the FCRA, you’ll need to do the following:
- Provide notice to the applicant that the employer will be completing a background check.
- Get the consent of the candidate to complete the background check.
- Provide the applicant with a copy of the “Summary of Consumer Rights under the FCRA”
- Provide the application with the name, address, and telephone number of the agency producing the report.
Under the FCRA, job candidates must be informed that they will undergo background checks, and they must provide authorization before a check is performed by an employer.
After a report is received, prospective employees have a right to review the reports and correct anything inaccurate. They also have the right to be informed when problematic information in background reports is used to make adverse hiring decisions. Finally, they also have the right to appeal an employer’s decision if they believe that it was unfair.
Under the FCRA, employers can only use information from a pre-employment background check to ensure that the applicant is a fit for the job. The written disclosure must be given to an applicant that he or she will undergo a background check, and written consent must be obtained before it can be completed. The candidates also must be told about their rights under the FCRA to review a copy of their background reports and to correct any inaccurate information.
If you decide to deny an applicant a job due to what is found on their background check, you must follow the Adverse Action Notification process. This process includes sending a letter to the applicant explaining what information was found that denied them the position, as well as informing them of where they can get a copy of this report.
Always include a copy of the most current and updated form titled, “Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”. Taking these steps ensures you are following the FCRA regulations.
If you decide to run a pre-employment background check yourself, without the help of a third-party company, be ready to do some digging… and most likely not get all the answers you need. While you may be able to sift through public records and search online databases, you won’t have access to all of the information available and may even be charged for extended searches.
But be careful:
You’ll want to ensure you don’t break any laws by making employment decisions based on one of the protected categories. Remember, it’s illegal to conduct a pre-employment background screening on someone because of their race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability.
While you may want to know, asking someone about their medical or financial history during an interview can get you in some big trouble—even if they’ve shared the information publicly on social media.
At iprospectcheck, we comply with the FCRA to ensure that our clients receive accurate, up-to-date, and FCRA-compliant information.
How Long Does a Background Check Take?
If you are urgently hiring for a position, you may feel anxious to get a job candidate’s background check completed as soon as possible. Companies like iprospectcheck have the software and the talent to return background checks very quickly, with packages that can get you your desired information in less than one business day on average.
How Far Back Does a Background Check for Employment Go?
Employers and consumer reporting agencies in every state must comply with the FCRA when they conduct background checks.
Some states also have laws about reportable information and how long it can appear on background checks. Under the FCRA, criminal history information from more than seven years ago is restricted from being reported and used to disqualify applicants. Depending on your state, there might also be other laws that apply. The FCRA’s limitations do not apply to salaried positions paying $75,000 or more.
While it is possible to find criminal history information for an applicant that dates back for more than seven years, you should avoid making hiring decisions based on that type of information. There are other types of information on the pre-employment background checks that iprospectcheck provides for which the time restrictions do not apply.
For example, the FCRA does not limit how long employment verification information, education information, or credentials information can be reported.
How Much Does A Background Check for Employment Cost?
How you conduct a background check will affect how much it costs. Most states have central repositories for criminal records and allow employers to submit signed authorizations from applicants to secure the information for a fee.
However, this type of information is not complete and will not include other pertinent details about an applicant’s education, work history, or credentials.
Trying to search an employee’s history online is not a good approach. The information that you find might be inaccurate and not up-to-date.
While you may find some free background check companies offering their services during a quick Google search, free isn’t always as great as it seems.
Free background check services aren’t comprehensive or accurate. But more importantly, free background check services often fail to meet the legal requirements, like those set by the FCRA we mentioned earlier.
The best alternative is to work with a qualified background check provider like iprospectcheck. We offer several different packages to meet the needs of our clients as well as add-on reports.
For businesses that need from 25 to 50 pre-employment background checks per year, our prices are as follows:
- $19.95 – Per report cost for a basic report that includes identity verification, a national criminal database search, and a national sex offender registry search
- $39.95 – Per report cost for a standard report that includes all of the information from the basic report as well as a search of the global terrorist watchlist and a seven-year county criminal records search
- $69.95 – Per report cost for a premium report that includes everything on the basic and standard reports as well as education verification and employment verification
These prices do not include set-up fees or third-party fees that might be incurred. If your company anticipates needing employment background reports at a high volume, you can contact us for a quote.
iprospectcheck: Your Background Screening Partner of Choice
Doing pre-employment background checks on potential employees is a valuable step in ensuring you are hiring the right candidate for the job. Background checks provide important information about a potential employee’s criminal record, financial history, work and educational background, and more.
Are you ready to start running FCRA-compliant background screenings on your potential employees? When you partner with iprospectcheck, you can be confident you are receiving the most information at the best price.
Contact us today to learn more about our background check packages and to get a free consultation. And be sure to share this article with colleagues so they can learn how to conduct compliant and efficient pre-employment background checks.
DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.