Reading a random person’s resume is one thing, but doing a background search is another. For a company screening qualified job-hunters, running a person background checks is often the best and only measure to identify the best applicant of the bunch. By “best”, we not only refer to intelligence and experience, but a whole lot more.
1. What is a Background Check?
A background check is the process of investigating and gathering relevant information such as past or present employment, commercial experience, financial history and criminal records of a person or organization. In layman’s terms, background checking an individual involves digging through many documents and interviewing people to verify facts.
The result of a background check reveals information taken from different sources, such as, but not limited to:
● Former employers
● Business interests
● Social security
● Credit history
● Criminal history
2. What is the Purpose of a Person Background Check?
The practice of background investigation extends throughout many industries to provide managers with insight and protect every industry’s best interests:
This is the biggest piece of the pie. Background checking is most availed by recruiters or hiring managers during employee screening. This is particularly true for very sensitive positions such as those belonging in the security, academic, medical, airline and banking industries. Even in the public sector, positions in law enforcement, military and finance need trust and confidence from higher authorities.
The main purpose of person background checks in the context of pre-employment screening is to find out an applicant’s weakness in character and health, and to spot security and safety risks. Any offense within the past work experience is a serious matter, especially for government positions. The ultimate goal of background investigation is to ensure that current employees in the company or organization remain safe and secure.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
Background checking is also useful for other people, such as SME owners who want to get to know their prospective business partners, and landlords who want to ensure that their tenants have no criminal history.
Depending on the country, certain affiliations or interests also require background checking. In the US, the Brady Bill requires those who intend to buy firearms and explosives to undergo criminal checks first.
Immigration and Citizenship
In light of issues on national security such as terrorism and drug trafficking, many states do a thorough background and derogatory check on all aliens who wish to enter their respective countries as workers, immigrants or refugees. This is to protect public welfare and minimize, if not eliminate, the threat of undesirable aliens.
3. Who Runs a Background Check?
Ideally, a government agency is the most qualified, unbiased provider of background checks. However, because of their own laws and regulations, not all countries may easily provide this kind of service to anyone who wishes to do an investigation.
For their convenience, companies may have their own private background investigators, but it is not uncommon to employ third-party providers to cross-check information about applicants. Most security companies that provide services like executive protection, business intelligence and fraud investigation also offer individual background checks.
4. How Much does a Background Check Cost?
The rates for requesting documents vary across countries and states. Records from offices like trial courts, professional bodies and motor-vehicular agencies range from $5 to $15, while federal criminal records may go up to $65. Meanwhile, sex offender databases are almost always free to use by the public for online criminal checks.
Private security firms who provide background reports will, of course, charge a premium fee for performing the investigation and gathering all the records. The rates also vary depending on the number of applicants and the extent of the background check as desired by the company. Retrieving records from international groups such as INTERPOL will also cost more considering the overhead costs and difficulty of acquiring information from an outside agency.
For an exact quote, security firms usually propose a plan tailored for a company’s needs and convenience.
5. Is It Essential for Companies to Perform Background Checks?
It’s alarming how many jobseekers misrepresent information in their resumes. According to a 2015 TIME magazine article, more than half of recruitment specialists detect lies on applicant resumes.
Because of bad hire, employers end up in a catastrophic situation—losing their profit, reputation and time. This is a real scenario in Poland, where wrong selection of employees forced 77% of companies to re-recruit due to issues on dishonesty, inefficiency, tardiness and even theft.
Rather than losing thousands or millions of dollars in repeating the recruitment process, why not make it a protocol to perform routine background checking on all prospective applicants? If you’re a business owner, it’s a small price to pay when you know you’re hiring an applicant with a clean record.
While it is not required by law, background investigation has a lot of weight in employee selection. Human resource managers now use it as part of a rubric to gauge an applicant’s overall qualification for the job. In the long run, this will be beneficial for both the employer and employee.
6. How Long does a Background Check Take?
A typical background check will need 3-7 days to complete. For federal documents like FBI records in the US, it may take up to 30 days to generate a thorough check which justifies why they cost a lot more than other records.
The number of applicants and the extent of the investigation also affect how long a background investigation will take. An urgent background report will also demand a higher rate.
7. Does a Background Check Violate Privacy?
The disadvantage of background checking is the increased likelihood of employment discrimination, identity theft and workplace bullying which stems from the invasion of privacy.
While it is not illegal to perform background checks, it is best to check your country or state for applicable regulations regarding its practice. In almost all cases, companies ask the applicants for their consent to undergo person background checks as part of the selection process.
Despite the few unpopular notions and the intimidating process of background investigation, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
Are you a business, entrepreneur or hiring manager? Would you consider performing person background checks on your current and future employees? Let us know what you think.