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What Are the Pros & Cons of Employment Background Checks?

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Most employers check the backgrounds of prospective candidates as a routine part of the hiring process.

They typically do so in an effort to protect workplace safety, ensure the right fit for their organization, choose qualified candidates, and prevent potential litigation.

While conducting employment background checks might seem like a standard practice for many organizations, some employers wonder if there are any drawbacks in doing so.

Here are some pros and cons of background checks to consider when you’re trying to decide whether to incorporate them into your hiring process.

What are Employment Background Checks?

Employment background checks are a review of an applicant’s or employee’s criminal, employment, education, or financial records.

They are typically conducted after a job offer has been extended or at specific intervals after an employee has been hired.

Here are the most common types of searches employers complete on applicants or employees:

What are the Pros and Cons of Background Checks for Employment?

There are both pros and cons of background checks for employment that you should consider when deciding whether to include them in your hiring practices.


1. Protect workplace safety

The leading reason why many employers conduct background checks on candidates is to protect workplace safety.

According to an employer survey, 89% reported they conducted employment background checks to protect the safety of their employees, customers, and the public.

Employment background checks can reveal criminal convictions such as assaults, rape, and other offenses that could threaten the safety of your current employees and your clients.

While all employers want to ensure workplace safety, these types of checks are especially important for employers that hire for safety-sensitive jobs or work involving the vulnerable population and might be required by law for those positions.

A criminal background check can reveal convictions on an applicant’s record that could threaten the safety of the workplace and disqualify them from employment.

Screening out potentially dangerous candidates before they are hired is much better than trying to deal with them once they are employed. Employers must protect themselves from both negligent hiring and negligent retention liability.

If you hire an applicant with a disqualifying conviction without checking their background, you might also be exposed to negligent hiring litigation if the employee later does something that harms others in the workplace.

If your company is hiring for jobs that require driving as a normal duty, completing motor vehicle records checks can help screen out candidates with poor driving records, a history of major traffic violations, and other indicators that they would be unsafe on the road to the public.

Another important background screening tool that can help to protect workplace safety is a pre-employment drug test.

This type of pre-employment screening helps to identify candidates who have recently used illegal drugs.

Workers with substance use problems pose a higher risk of workplace accidents and can endanger themselves and others working around them.

2. Hire better candidates

Ensuring you choose the right candidate for the job can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

When you incorporate employment background checks into your normal hiring process, you can get a comprehensive picture of your candidates and make better hiring decisions.

Applicants sometimes misrepresent their identity, employment history, education, degrees, and professional licenses.

Even if you check the references provided by an applicant, some candidates include the names of friends or family members while claiming they are former colleagues who can speak about their work performance.

Requesting employment verification, education verification, and professional license verification as a part of your employment background checks will confirm if your candidates have been honest and have the requisite experience, skills, education, and licenses to perform the jobs for which you are hiring.

3. Protect your brand

The employees you hire are the face of your organization. Managing your reputation and brand begins with the hiring decisions you make.

The behavior, words, and actions of your employees can have an outsized impact on your organization’s image with the public and potential customers.

When you work with a reputable background screening provider like iprospectcheck, you can ensure that the candidates you hire have values that align with those of your organization and will help your company project a strong reputation.

Comprehensive background checks for employment can help to ensure your applicants are trustworthy, qualified, experienced, and safe and avoid problematic behaviors both online and in the real world.

Employment background checks also help to screen out applicants that could expose your company to negligent hiring liability and potential damage to the reputation of your brand.

By making informed hiring decisions with the help of comprehensive employment background checks, you can maintain your company’s positive brand reputation.

4. Encourage a positive workplace culture

Having a strong and positive culture at your workplace depends on the ability of your team to trust each other, feel comfortable, and experience a sense of community.

When your company includes employment background checks as a regular part of your hiring process for every employee, the people you hire will know that everyone there has passed their background screens and can be trusted to perform quality work.

Establishing a fair, compliant background screening process also helps to eliminate unconscious biases that could negatively impact your company’s culture and employee morale.

Your practice of conducting employment background checks on all employees shows that you are committed to hiring the right people.


1. Time-consuming to carry out

In a tight labor market, it’s understandable that employers need to make fast hiring decisions before potential talent becomes frustrated and takes a job from a different employer.

For this reason, some employers believe that conducting background checks is too time-consuming and could cause them to lose talented candidates.

While it might be true that completing a thorough background check on prospective candidates could take a long time if you delegate the task to your HR staff, checking each candidate’s background before you hire does not have to take much time.

If you partner with iprospectcheck, you can receive comprehensive employment background checks on your candidates quickly.

Because of our state-of-the-art technology platform combined with proprietary research methods and extensive resources, we often can return background checks to our clients in a matter of hours.

2. Difficult to stay compliant

Multiple laws and regulations at the local, state, and federal levels govern background checks, and new legislation is passed and enacted every year in jurisdictions across the U.S.

The myriad of laws and rules and the constant changes cause some employers to avoid employment background checks altogether because of a fear of being non-compliant and subject to fines and penalties.

However, failing to conduct employment background checks could expose your organization to significant liability if you hire the wrong person.

Depending on your industry, you might also be legally required to conduct background checks to remain compliant.

If an employer partners with a background check service like iprospectcheck, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) controls the types of information the third party can report and what an employer can do with the information they receive on background check reports.

This is a federal law that protects consumer privacy and establishes standards for how consumer reports can be conducted and used in employment and other capacities.

The FCRA also requires employers to disclose their intent to conduct employment background checks and obtain the written consent of their applicants before they can conduct them.

When an employer learns about negative information on a background check, they must complete the adverse action process before they ultimately decide to deny employment to the applicant.

Other federal, state, and local laws also control employment background checks, including when they can be performed, the types of information that can be reported, and other factors.

We keep track of background check laws as they change and always stay current with both our own and our clients’ legal obligations.

When you partner with us, you can feel confident in the legal compliance of the reports you receive and use to make hiring decisions.

3. Might include erroneous or outdated information

Some online vendors promise fast background checks and provide reports that include inaccurate and outdated information that doesn’t comply with the FCRA and other relevant laws.

Employers sometimes hesitate to complete employment background checks because they worry about their legal exposure if they rely on old, inaccurate information when making hiring decisions.

At iprospectcheck, we always validate the information as a part of our Quality Assurance process before we return reports.

You can rely on the reports we provide since we only include current, accurate information that complies with all relevant laws.

Are Background Checks for Employment Worth it?

When considering the pros and cons of conducting employment background checks, it’s easy to see that there are more advantages than disadvantages for your organization.

Employment background checks can protect the safety of your workplace and your organization’s brand and encourage the development of a positive workplace culture.

Including background checks as a regular part of your pre-employment screening process can also help to ensure the candidates you hire are fully qualified, trustworthy, and have the right experience for their jobs.

Employment background checks can also help your company avoid losses from internal fraud and theft and potential negligent hiring liability.

When you work with a reliable background check provider like iprospectcheck, you can also avoid most of the cons of completing pre-employment screens.

We Simplify Background Checks for Employers

As an employer, you likely understand the benefits your company can enjoy by including employment background checks in your hiring and onboarding process.

While you might worry that conducting employment background checks and maintaining legal compliance will be too time-consuming and difficult, we help to simplify and speed up the process while complying with all relevant laws.

To learn about our employment background check services or to receive a free quote, contact iprospectcheck today: (888) 509-1979

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.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.